Kids, young people have less severe Covid-19 than adults

Children wear face masks following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus on Valentine’s Day in Hong Kong China

Children wear face masks following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus on Valentine’s Day in Hong Kong China

Even though most children have the most common symptoms like fevers and coughs, around 22.7 percent of the children under study showed various ocular manifestations.

Dr Olivia Swann, lead author and Clinical Lecturer in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Edinburgh, said: "Researchers often want to call attention to large numbers of patients in their studies, however, we want to highlight that children made up only a fraction of a percent of all Covid-19 admissions across the United Kingdom in our study and that severe disease was rare".

As such, they conclude that severe disease is rare and death is exceptionally rare in children admitted to hospital with covid-19, but that ethnicity seems to be a risk factor for more severe illness.

But genetic material from the virus was detectable in the children for a mean of 17.6 days.

However, the findings also show that children of Black ethnicity were disproportionately severely affected by covid-19 infection. The commissioned editorial, written by Roberta L. DeBiasi, M.D., M.S., chief of the Division of Pediatric Diseases, and Meghan Delaney, D.O., M.P.H., chief of the Division of Pathology and Lab Medicine, provides important insight on the role children might play in the spread of COVID-19 as communities continue to develop public health strategies to reign in this disease.

For this study, published in the BMJ medical journal, Semple's team looked at data from 651 babies and children under 19 who were hospitalised with COVID-19 between January 17 and July 3.

The team led by researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Liverpool, Imperial College London and the Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow, recruited 651 children and young people aged 19 years or less who had been admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

They said the study's findings show that screening children with symptoms alone would have missed 93% of the cases would have been missed.

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The researchers found almost half of the children who were symptomatic and a fifth of the asymptomatic children were still shedding after being tested at three weeks. For symptomatic cases, the average was 17.6 days. They were unable to analyze how infectious the children may have been due to South Korea's strict quarantine measures.

The median age of patients in the study was 4.6 years, predominantly male (56%) and of white ethnicity (57%), with most (58%) children having no known comorbidities. Three children had asthma and three had epilepsy, but no other comorbid conditions or immunodeficiencies were reported.

The symptoms usually seen in those with MIS-C include conjunctivitis, a rash, gastrointestinal problem such as abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Just 12 children received treatment, most commonly with lopinavir-ritonavir (Kaletra) or hydroxychloroquine, and none required mechanical ventilation.

The study's findings show that the duration of symptoms varied widely, from three days to almost three weeks.

The combination of symptoms and low platelets may be important in identifying children with MIS-C who may become more unwell, experts say. They said the duration the asymptomatic children were shedding could have been even longer, since the true date of their infection is unknown.

The study had all of the limitations of available testing. One concerns the link between testing and transmission.

SARS-CoV-2 has also been detected in other bodily fluids, including stool, for prolonged periods, which were not measured in this study.

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