Silver linings: Decreased pediatric invasive pneumococcal disease during the first year of COVID-19

Reviewed by Zachary Willis, MD, MPH; UNC Medical Center, Chapel Hill, NC

Efforts to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 had broad effects against other common circulating infectious diseases. Pneumococcus is a pathogen of particular interest in children, as the most common bacterial cause of many common childhood illnesses and an important cause of bacteremia and meningitis. In this study, seven pediatric hospitals participating in an existing surveillance network found that the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) fell 46% in 2020, compared to 2017-19. IPD is the tip of the iceberg of pneumococcal infections, but, unlike less severe infections, IPD infections are likely to be detected with high accuracy regardless of pandemic-related changes in healthcare seeking. Pediatric IPD trends as a proxy for childhood infection transmission will be important to monitor as pandemic precautions continue to dissipate; decreased vaccination coverage during the pandemic could lead to rebound and increased IPD above pre-pandemic rates.

Sarmiento Clemente A, Kaplan SL, Barson WJ, et al. Decrease in Pediatric Invasive Pneumococcal Disease During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. Published online June 22, 2022:piac056. doi:10.1093/jpids/piac056

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