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Lancet Infect Dis. 2017 Oct;17(10):e320-e326. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(17)30238-4. Epub 2017 Apr 28.

Global epidemiology of non-influenza RNA respiratory viruses: data gaps and a growing need for surveillance.

Author information

Clinical Microbiology, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, UK; Department of Infection, Inflammation and Immunity, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK. Electronic address:
School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China.
Department of Experimental Pathology, Immunology, and Microbiology, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.
Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.
Alberta Provincial Laboratory for Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.
Virology Unit, Institut Pasteur of Madagascar, Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Department of Viroscience, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Erratum in


Together with influenza, the non-influenza RNA respiratory viruses (NIRVs), which include respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza viruses, coronavirus, rhinovirus, and human metapneumovirus, represent a considerable global health burden, as recognised by WHO's Battle against Respiratory Viruses initiative. By contrast with influenza viruses, little is known about the contemporaneous global diversity of these viruses, and the relevance of such for development of pharmaceutical interventions. Although far less advanced than for influenza, antiviral drugs and vaccines are in different stages of development for several of these viruses, but no interventions have been licensed. This scarcity of global genetic data represents a substantial knowledge gap and impediment to the eventual licensing of new antiviral drugs and vaccines for NIRVs. Enhanced genetic surveillance will assist and boost research and development into new antiviral drugs and vaccines for these viruses. Additionally, understanding the global diversity of respiratory viruses is also part of emerging disease preparedness, because non-human coronaviruses and paramyxoviruses have been listed as priority concerns in a recent WHO research and development blueprint initiative for emerging infectious diseases. In this Personal View, we explain further the rationale for expanding the genetic database of NIRVs and emphasise the need for greater investment in this area of research.

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