Background: The first outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) occurred in March 2020 in Europe, which is normally the peak incidence period of human metapneumovirus (HMPV) infections, implying cocirculation and potentially causing competition between them. Methods: We investigated differences in clinical characteristics and outcomes of HMPV infections in hospitalized patients before (January 2016–28 February, 2020) and HMPV and COVID-19 during part of the COVID-19 pandemic (28 February, 2020–1 April, 2020). Results: A total of 239 HMPV patients and 303 COVID-19 patients were included. Incidence of HMPV peaked in March. Despite a 324% increase in HMPV testing during the COVID-19 outbreak, incidence of HMPV remained stable. Clinical characteristics showed 25 (11%) ICU admissions and 14 (6%) deaths. History of myocardial infarction, higher age and lower BMI were independently associated with increased 30-day mortality. Clinical characteristics of HMPV-infected patients did not differ between the non-COVID-19 period and the examined COVID-19 period except for length of hospital stay (7 vs. 5 days). HMPV infection and COVID-19 shared many clinical features but HMPV was associated with female gender, elderly patients and chronic conditions (COPD and chronic heart failure). Clinical outcomes did not differ between the viruses during the COVID-19 period. Conclusions: The clinical impact of HMPV infection did not change during the COVID-19 outbreak in terms of incidence and/or disease severity; hence, HMPV and SARS-CoV-2 are probably co-circulating independently. Despite the current clinical focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, clinicians should keep in mind that HMPV-infection may mimic COVID-19 and is also associated with serious adverse outcomes.

COVID-19, HMPV, hospitalization, Human metapneumovirus, mortality, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2,
Infectious Diseases
Department of Virology

Jongbloed, M. (Mandy), Leijte, W.T. (Wouter T.), Linssen, C.F, van den Hoogen, B.G, van Gorp, E.C.M, & de Kruif, M.D. (2021). Clinical impact of human metapneumovirus infections before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Infectious Diseases. doi:10.1080/23744235.2021.1887510