‘Tripledemic’ warning as virus with ‘far bigger threat’ to children than Covid looms

People are being warned that a “highly contagious” respiratory virus could be on the rise during the winter.

Health experts have previously highlighted that potential spiking cases of Covid and the flu may cause a ‘twindemic’. But now, concerns have been raised about a third virus being thrown into the mix.

You are reading: ‘Tripledemic’ warning as virus with ‘far bigger threat’ to children than Covid looms

The common respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) could present another issue this winter, one expert has warned. RSV can cause pneumonia and the swelling of airways in babies, the elderly and vulnerable people, the Express reports.

Most adults will only show mild symptoms and recover within a couple of days, but it can pose a greater danger to certain groups of people.

It’s the leading cause of infant hospitalisations in the UK and close to a third of under-fives with respiratory symptoms swabbed as part of UKHSA surveillance test positive.

Thanks to Covid and flu vaccinations, many people in the UK are protected against falling too unwell if they contract either of these viruses.

But Prof Francois Balloux, Director, UCL Genetics Institute said that RSV is a completely different story. He told Express.co.uk: “RSV is a leading cause of child hospitalisation and the virus kills over 100,000 children each year globally.

Boy suffering from cold
Children are more at risk from RSV (Image: Getty Images)

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“That’s more than 50 times as many children than those who died from Covid throughout the pandemic. It’s a far bigger threat to young children than Covid or seasonal flu.”

He also warned that unless a vaccine is created and rolled out as soon as possible, “disruptive measures” must be carried out if the cases don’t stop rising.

Recent figures from the UK Health Security Agency show that nearly a third of children under five currently have RSV, with 7.4 percent of the general population infected with the disease overall.

With cases of this virus rising, it comes at the same time as flu levels have hit levels higher than normal after two years of lockdown, while over two million people in the UK have Covid.

But this does not necessarily mean that a “tripledemic” is coming our way.

Professor Amitava Banerjee, from the Institute of Health Informatics and UCL, told the Express: “In my view the word ‘tripledemic’ is just the latest soundbite and we do not necessarily know that RSV will be as big a threat.

“I think far greater potential threats to the NHS is due to chronic underfunding, chronic understaffing and the indirect and long-term effects of COVID.”

Tired desperate mother and baby crying
Parents have described it as a “scary time” (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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However, parents across the UK are clearly feeling the effects of the contagious virus, with many concerned about what steps are going to be taken to control it.

Victoria Fuller, a mum-of-one, told the Express: “My daughter has had five bugs in the space of eight weeks – at least three of those have been of the respiratory kind.

“It’s a scary time for parents who are trying to be vigilant against these extra illnesses going around, but at the same time, life has to go on. No nursery would mean no work for me – and with the cost of living crisis well underway, that’s just not an option.”

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