WHO Global Respiratory Syncytial Virus Surveillance

Smiling baby in Brazil
WHO/Anna Kari

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a leading cause of hospitalization due to acute lower respiratory infection especially in infants and young children. Currently available options (Palivizumab) for preventing and treating RSV are limited to select populations in high-resource settings. Fortunately, several vaccine candidates are now in the human testing phase targeting young children, older adults and pregnant women, and an effective safe vaccine is likely to be available in the near future.

Several countries test for RSV as part of influenza and other respiratory virus surveillance. One of the challenges has been the use of a standardized surveillance case definition that would allow capture of RSV infection especially in infants and young children.

The WHO Global Influenza Programme with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is piloting a RSV Surveillance strategy based on the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) in 14 countries in order to develop an evidence-base for informing RSV vaccination policy. The Pilot is supported by 3 RSV Reference Laboratories and the International Reagent Resource (IRR) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA.

WHO RSV Surveillance Strategy (in pilot)

WHO RSV strategic guidance

The World Health Organization (WHO) has conducted global surveillance of influenza for more than 60 years through a network of laboratories known as the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS).

Over a period of three years, appropriate and feasible processes for RSV surveillance will be established and evaluated in the RSV Surveillance Pilot. To this goal, WHO regional offices have identified two or three countries to participate in the Pilot in each of the six regions where RSV Surveillance is already being performed.

This document presents the WHO strategy for leveraging the existing capacities of the GISRS network for RSV surveillance without compromising influenza surveillance. It is intended for use by the GISRS network, national influenza surveillance systems that are participating in the WHO Global RSV surveillance pilot and international entities interested directly and indirectly in RSV surveillance.

WHO Mid-term Review Meeting of the RSV Surveillance Pilot

RSV midterm meeting

A global strategy for RSV surveillance based on the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) was finalized in a technical meeting of experts in Geneva from 28 – 30 June 2016, following which a two-year RSV surveillance pilot project (2017-18) was rolled out in all six WHO regions in 14 countries.

After one-year pilot of RSV surveillance, the proposed meeting hosted jointly by PAHO and WHO HQ, will bring together participating countries, international experts and other stakeholders, to assess the mid-term progress of the global RSV surveillance pilot, analyse mid-term outcome and share experiences for any mid-course adjustment as necessary.

This meeting will take place on 18 - 20 December 2017 at PAHO, Washington DC, USA.