Unexplained Surge in Child Pneumonia Cases Sweeps Europe Amid Ongoing COVID-like Crisis in China

Unexplained Surge in Child Pneumonia Cases Sweeps Europe Amid Ongoing COVID-like Crisis in China
Image by Almeida from Pixabay

Pneumonia cases among children are surging in the Netherlands, with alarming rates reported by the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL). Last week, 80 out of every 100,000 children aged 5 to 15 were treated for pneumonia, marking the largest outbreak in recent years. Cases in children aged 4 and under also rose from 124 to 145 per 100,000. In 2022, during the peak of the flu season, there were 60 cases per 100,000 children in the 5-to-15 age group. Neither NIVEL nor the National Institute for Public Health could explain the sudden increase.

The cause of this uptick remains unknown, and it’s unclear if it’s related to the rise in respiratory illnesses in China. Chinese health officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) found no new or unusual pathogens in the pneumonia cases. In China, experts attribute the surge to weakened immunity due to a lack of exposure to common viruses during prolonged lockdowns.

However, in the Netherlands, where COVID-era measures have been lifted for a considerable time, the cause of the new pneumonia surge in children raises questions. Disturbing videos from hospitals in Beijing and northern China, crowded with sick children and parents, have prompted global concern. The WHO publicly requested data from Chinese health officials on clusters of pneumonia cases, which were determined to be caused by known viruses.

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