Background The COVID-19 pandemic reached the Southern Hemisphere in the autumn of 2020, thus coinciding with its expected annual viral respiratory season. The potential impact of national strategies aimed at mitigating COVID-19 during the pandemic on the incidence of other critical viral lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) in children is unknown.
Methods We analysed admission data for LRTIs from 22 paediatric intensive care units (PICUs) in four countries, part of a large international Latin American registry of children with acute respiratory failure (Red Colaborativa Pediátrica de Latinoamérica [LARed Network]).
Results Between January and August, there were 83% fewer PICU admissions for LRTIs in 2020 compared to the 2018/2019 average over the same period. Similar decreases were noted for PICU admissions due to respiratory syncytial virus and influenza (92% and 78%, respectively).
Conclusion We observed a striking reduction in PICU admissions due to viral LRTIs over winter, during the COVID-19 pandemic in South America.
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PV-H and SG-D are joint first authors.
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Collaborators Dr Antonio Bravo, Caja Nacional de Salud, La Paz, Bolivia; Dr Nils Casson Rodriguez, Hospital Regional San Juan de Dios, Tarija, Bolivia; Dr Miguel Céspedes Lesczinsky, Hospital Materno Infantil Boliviano Japonés, Trinidad, Bolivia; Dr Alejandro Donoso, Hospital Clínico Metropolitano La Florida, Santiago, Chile; Dr Adriana Wegner, Complejo Asistencial; Dr Sotero del Rio, Santiago, Chile; Dr Diego Aranguiz Quintanilla, Complejo Asistencial; Dr Víctor Ríos Ruíz, Los Ángeles, Chile; Dr Rosalba Pardo and Dr Alexandra Jimenez, Clínica Infantil Colsubsidio, Bogotá, Colombia; Dr Alicia Fernández, Asociación Española, Montevideo, Uruguay; Dr Luis Castro, CAMDEL, Minas, Uruguay; Dr Mónica Carro, Círculo Católico, Montevideo, Uruguay; Bernardo Alonso, COMECA, Canelones, Uruguay; Dr Loredana Matrai, Hospital Evangélico, Montevideo, Uruguay; Lic. Cristina Courtie, Hospital Militar, Montevideo, Uruguay; Dr Luis Martínez, COMEPA, Paysandú, Uruguay; Dr Araní Ferré Hospital Policial, Montevideo, Uruguay; Dr Luis Pedrozo, Hospital Salto, Salto, Uruguay; Dra Soledad Menta, Hospital Tacuarembó, Tacuarembó, Uruguay.
Contributors PV-H, FD-R and SG-D had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. PV-H, FD-R and SG-D were involved in the concept and design; acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data; statistical analysis; and administrative, technical, or material support. PV-H and SG-D contributed to the drafting of the manuscript and supervision.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval Each institution approved the LARed Network database, and this study was reviewed and approved by the institutional review board at Hospital de San José (IRB00011307, CEISH:0364–2020), Bogota, Colombia.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.
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