Global Molecular Epidemiology of Respiratory Syncytial Virus from the 2017-2018 INFORM-RSV Study

J Clin Microbiol. 2020 Dec 17;59(1):e01828-20. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01828-20. Print 2020 Dec 17.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of lower respiratory tract infection among infants and young children, resulting in annual epidemics worldwide. INFORM-RSV is a multiyear clinical study designed to describe the global molecular epidemiology of RSV in children under 5 years of age by monitoring temporal and geographical evolution of current circulating RSV strains, F protein antigenic sites, and their relationships with clinical features of RSV disease. During the pilot season (2017-2018), 410 RSV G-F gene sequences were obtained from 476 RSV-positive nasal samples collected from 8 countries (United Kingdom, Spain, The Netherlands, Finland, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, and Australia). RSV B (all BA9 genotype) predominated over RSV A (all ON1 genotype) globally (69.0% versus 31.0%) and in all countries except South Africa. Geographic clustering patterns highlighted wide transmission and continued evolution with viral spread. Most RSV strains were from infants of <1 year of age (81.2%), males (56.3%), and patients hospitalized for >24 h (70.5%), with no differences in subtype distribution. Compared to 2013 reference sequences, variations at F protein antigenic sites were observed for both RSV A and B strains, with high-frequency polymorphisms at antigenic site Ø (I206M/Q209R) and site V (L172Q/S173L/K191R) in RSV B strains. The INFORM-RSV 2017-2018 pilot season establishes an important molecular baseline of RSV strain distribution and sequence variability with which to track the emergence of new strains and provide an early warning system of neutralization escape variants that may impact transmission or the effectiveness of vaccines and MAbs under development.

Keywords: evolution; genetic variation; molecular epidemiology; resistance; respiratory syncytial virus; surveillance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Finland
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Netherlands
  • Phylogeny
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human* / genetics
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom