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Watch: What’s Behind ‘Mystery Wave’ of Pneumonia Striking Children in China?

By Brenda Baletti, Ph.D.


John Campbell, Ph.D. this week explained what’s known so far about the surge in pneumonia affecting children in China, and why it likely isn’t a new pandemic but possibly may indicate the presence of an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.

Reports of a “mystery wave of pneumonia” circulating among children in China have some people wondering if there’s a new pandemic afoot, internet lecturer John Campbell, Ph.D. said in a recent YouTube video.

“The short answer appears to be no,” said Campbell, a former emergency room nurse and teacher. However, a survey of the available information indicates there are “some strange things that are happening that don’t quite make sense.”

Campbell cited questions regarding what is causing the respiratory infections surge and whether the symptoms are typical.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (WHO) have reported an upsurge in respiratory infections among children in northern China. China reported that 3,500 children were admitted to the hospital in October and November. The Beijing Friendship Hospital pediatrics department on Nov. 11 told Radio Free Asia the department was fielding about 1,000 calls a day requesting emergency treatment.

Campbell said there are clearly clusters of pneumonia that need an explanation.

Given how long and intensely China was locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic, a certain number of rebound respiratory infections are expected among children who, because they were isolated during lockdown and not exposed to the typical number of pathogens, experience a “community immunity debt.”

That led Chinese authorities and the WHO to conclude the respiratory illnesses are normal…

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