BACKGROUND: We have previously estimated that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was associated with 22% of all episodes of (severe) acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) resulting in 55 000 to 199 000 deaths in children younger than 5 years in 2005. In the past 5 years, major research activity on RSV has yielded substantial new data from developing countries. With a considerably expanded dataset from a large international collaboration, we aimed to estimate the global incidence, hospital admission rate, and mortality from RSV-ALRI episodes in young children in 2015. METHODS: We estimated the incidence and hospital admission rate of RSV-associated ALRI (RSV-ALRI) in children younger than 5 years stratified by age and World Bank income regions from a systematic review of studies published between Jan 1, 1995, and Dec 31, 2016, and unpublished data from 76 high quality population-based studies. We estimated the RSV-ALRI incidence for 132 developing countries using a risk factor-based model and 2015 population estimates. We estimated the in-hospital RSV-ALRI mortality by combining in-hospital case fatality ratios with hospital admission estimates from hospital-based (published and unpublished) studies. We also estimated overall RSV-ALRI mortality by identifying studies reporting monthly data for ALRI mortality in the community and RSV activity. FINDINGS: We estimated that globally in 2015, 33.1 million (uncertainty range [UR] 21.6-50.3) episodes of RSV-ALRI, resulted in about 3.2 million (2.7-3.8) hospital admissions, and 59 600 (48 000-74 500) in-hospital deaths in children younger than 5 years. In children younger than 6 months, 1.4 million (UR 1.2-1.7) hospital admissions, and 27 300 (UR 20 700-36 200) in-hospital deaths were due to RSV-ALRI. We also estimated that the overall RSV-ALRI mortality could be as high as 118 200 (UR 94 600-149 400). Incidence and mortality varied substantially from year to year in any given population. INTERPRETATION: Globally, RSV is a common cause of childhood ALRI and a major cause of hospital admissions in young children, resulting in a substantial burden on health-care services. About 45% of hospital admissions and in-hospital deaths due to RSV-ALRI occur in children younger than 6 months. An effective maternal RSV vaccine or monoclonal antibody could have a substantial effect on disease burden in this age group. FUNDING: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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