Collateral Impact of Public Health and Social Measures on Respiratory Virus Activity during the COVID-19 Pandemic 2020-2021

Viruses. 2022 May 17;14(5):1071. doi: 10.3390/v14051071.


Many countries have implemented public health and social measures (PHSMs) to control the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Although the PHSMs are targeted at SARS-CoV-2 transmission control, they directly or indirectly impact the epidemiology of different respiratory viral diseases. The purpose of this study was to investigate the collateral impact of PHSMs used during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the epidemiology of other respiratory viruses, including influenza, parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus, and adenovirus infections. We conducted a systematic review of the published literature on changes in the incidence of respiratory viral diseases and detection rates of the respiratory viruses during COVID-19 pandemic, lasting from 2020-2021, published between December 2019 and March 2022 in PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases. We identified an overall decrease of 23-94% in the incidence of respiratory viral diseases and a decrease of 0-98% in the detection of the viruses. Our study suggests that the PHSMs implemented during COVID-19 pandemic reduced the incidence of respiratory viral diseases and transmission of respiratory viruses. At the time of this study, and as governments relax PHSMs, public health authorities should prepare for a probable increase in the burden of respiratory viral diseases.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; adenovirus; influenza; nonpharmaceutical measure; parainfluenza; public health; respiratory syncytial virus; rhinovirus; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Public Health
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / epidemiology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Viruses*

Grant support

This work was supported by National Health Insurance Service in Korea and the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea by the Ministry of Education (grant number NRF-2020R1I1A3066471).