The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Pediatric Respiratory Hospitalizations

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Background: During coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, less isolation of common winter viruses was reported in the southern hemisphere. Objectives: To evaluate annual trends in respiratory disease-related admissions in a large Israeli hospital during and before the pandemic. Methods: A retrospective analysis of medical records from November 2020 to January 2021 (winter season) was conducted and compared to the same period in two previous years. Data included number of admissions, epidemiological and clinical presentation, and isolation of respiratory pathogens. Results: There were 1488 respiratory hospitalizations (58% males): 632 in 2018-2019,701 in 2019-2020, and 155 in 2020-2021. Daily admissions decreased significantly from a median value of 6 (interquartile range [IQR] 4-9) and 7 per day (IQR 6-10) for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, respectively, to only 1 per day (IQR 1-3) in 2020-2021 (P-value < 0.001). The incidence of all respiratory viruses decreased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no hospitalizations due to influenza and only one with respiratory syncytial virus. There was also a significant decline in respiratory viral and bacterial co-infections during the pandemic (P-value < 0.001). Conclusions: There was a significant decline in pediatric respiratory admission rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Possible etiologies include epidemiological factors such as mask wearing and social distancing, in addition to biological factors such as viral interference. A herd protection effect of adults and older children wearing masks may also have had an impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-176
Number of pages6
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  • infections, respiratory hospitalizations
  • respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)


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