There is now a viral hurricane going on.
RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), influenza, COVID, and common colds are just a few of the viruses that are sweeping the nation's children. Many paediatric facilities are at or above capacity, which is a terrible situation. Many of the public health measures implemented over the previous few of years to prevent COVID also assisted in preventing the spread of other viruses. However, incidences are now increasing at an alarming—and, for paediatric care institutions, overwhelming—rate as more children experience their first "typical" fall cold season.
I discussed why children are currently so ill on Sunday's episode of What Next: TBD with Katherine Wu, a scientific reporter for the Atlantic. For the sake of clarity, our dialogue has been edited and reduced.
There is currently nothing but a viral maelstrom everywhere. It's very typical for many respiratory viruses, in particular, to emerge when the weather cools in the autumn and as we approach winter. The two most prevalent ones are influenza and RSV, as well as rhinovirus and enterovirus. That's not strange, but the sheer number of infections, co-infections, and subsequent infections occurring one after another are actually hurting everyone, and the reasons why are kind of interesting.
Another respiratory virus that is spread pretty regularly is this one. It is nothing new; in fact, scientists have been working on a vaccination for quite some time. It appears that Pfizer will be providing one to us very shortly. One virus that seems to increase in frequency during the colder months is RSV. It is believed that this is because you can develop immunity after you've had a few infections, which is why it primarily affects very young children. Every time a respiratory ailment wave appears, it will be a little patchy.