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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the predominant cause of clinical pneumonia among infants and young children, often peaking during the winter months in temperate regions.


To describe RSV seasonality in 13 European countries and examine its association with meteorological factors.


We included weekly RSV seasonality data from 13 European countries between week 40 2010 and week 39 2019. Using local weighted regression method, we modelled weekly RSV activity with meteorological factors using data from the 2010/11 to the 2017/18 season. We predicted the weekly RSV activity of the 2018/19 season across 41 European countries and validated our prediction using empirical data.


All countries had annual wintertime RSV seasons with a longitudinal gradient in RSV onset (Pearson’s correlation coefficient, r = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.60 to 0.80). The RSV season started 3.8 weeks later (95% CI: −0.5 to 8.0) in countries in the eastern vs western parts of Europe, and the duration ranged from 8–18 weeks across seasons and countries. Lower temperature and higher relative humidity were associated with higher RSV activity, with a 14-day lag time. Through external validation, the prediction error in RSV season onset was −2.4 ± 3.2 weeks. Similar longitudinal gradients in RSV onset were predicted by our model for the 2018/19 season (r = 0.45, 95% CI: 0.16 to 0.66).


Meteorological factors, such as temperature and relative humidity, could be used for early warning of RSV season onset. Our findings may inform healthcare services planning and optimisation of RSV immunisation strategies in Europe.


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