Europe: Increase in Child Pneumonia Cases Amid China Outbreak

    Europe: Increase in Child Pneumonia Cases Amid China Outbreak
    Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images Europe [via Getty Images]

    The Facts

    • An outbreak of infections that were first noted in China has grown into an uptick of pneumonia cases in children across Europe, with at least six European countries having reportedly seen an increase in cases.

    • China — facing its first winter since COVID restrictions were lifted — has attributed the increase to known pathogens, ruling out a novel virus and reporting that the cause is a combination of illnesses, including influenza, rhinoviruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenovirus, and pneumonia bacteria.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    While the world responded to the COVID outbreak, the surveillance of many other respiratory illnesses already on the map — including influenza and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus — was neglected, allowing the conditions for these recent outbreaks. To combat the spread of these illnesses and to prevent them from becoming epidemic or pandemic, public health agencies worldwide must further integrate surveillance technologies or else risk being left dangerously unprepared, yet again.

    Narrative B

    While public health certainly learned a hard lesson during the pandemic, many nations have used those failures to advance their health-response capabilities. A joint effort between the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization developed and deployed a platform for countries to use in their transition from unsustainable mass testing practices to a multi-virus integrated surveillance approach. Through this effort, Europe is already more prepared for not only COVID but other life-threatening pathogens.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 1% chance that a novel pathogen will be identified as being the cause behind the pneumonia cases in Beijing or Liaoning before Dec. 15, 2023, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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