Nov 27, 2022 - Health

Fauci: RSV cases at "critical" point, hopeful rates decline soon

Anthony Fauci

Anthony Fauci speaks about the coronavirus during the White House press briefing on Nov. 22. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Spiking cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) among children are currently at a critical juncture in the U.S. but will hopefully begin declining from their peak soon, outgoing NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Driving the news: Fears of a "tripledemic" have abounded in recent weeks as physicians across the country have reported seeing cases of RSV rise, coinciding with the flu season and COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Earlier this month, the Children's Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics sent a letter to President Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra asking the administration to declare an emergency amidst an "alarming surge of pediatric hospitalizations" due in part to rising cases of RSV.
  • "Across the country, more than three-quarters of pediatric hospital beds are full, and many states are reporting more than 90 percent of their pediatric beds are occupied," the letter stated.

What they're saying: Asked by host Margaret Brennan if the rise in RSV cases is an emergency, Fauci replied, "it is if in fact, which in some regions of the country, we're seeing that the hospital system for pediatrics are at the point of almost being overwhelmed."

  • "When you have very little wiggle room of intensive care beds, when you have like almost all the intensive care beds that are occupied, it's bad for the children who have RSV and need intensive care," Fauci said, adding that the situation also means there's no room in intensive care or the ICU for children with other diseases and illnesses.
  • "So if you get to that situation that's approaching an emergency. So when the nurses and the pediatric associations are saying this is really critical, it is," he added.

State of play: "Hopefully we're going to see that peak come down because if you look at other countries that have had those kinds of peaks with flu and RSV, it's peaked early, but come down," Fauci said.

  • The RSV season normally runs from December to April, peaking in February and March, but this year has seen an earlier onset. Fauci noted that both the RSV and flu seasons have arrived earlier than usual this year.
  • Asked by Brennan whether the U.S. is "in the worst of it" right now, Fauci replied, "I hope so."

Go deeper: What parents should know about looming “tripledemic” and their kids' health

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