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


New research has added to the growing body of evidence that children and young people have less severe Covid-19 than adults and death is exceptionally rare, only occurring in children with serious underlying conditions.

However, the findings, published in the journal The BMJ, also show that children of ‘Black’ ethnicity were disproportionately severely affected by Covid-19 infection.

“Children and young people make up only 1-2 per cent of cases of Covid-19 worldwide, and the vast majority of reported infections in children are mild or asymptomatic, with few recorded deaths,” said the study authors from the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

“As such, there has been less information on ethnicity, underlying conditions (comorbidities), and outcomes for children with Covid-19 than in adults,” they added.

For the study, the research team analysed data from 651 children and young people (aged less than 19 years) with Covid-19 admitted to 138 hospitals in England, Wales, and Scotland between January 17 and July 3, 2020.

The median age of patients in the study was 4.6 years, predominantly male (56 per cent) and of white ethnicity (57 per cent), with most (58 per cent) children having no known comorbidities.

The main outcome measures were admission to critical care, death in hospital, or meeting the World Health Organisation (WHO) definition for the multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) – a rare condition thought to be linked to Covid-19.

Patients were tracked for a minimum of two weeks, during which time 18 per cent (116) children were admitted to critical care. Those aged younger than one month, aged 10-14 years, and of black ethnicity were more likely to be admitted to critical care.

According to the study, one per cent died in hospital, all of whom had profound comorbidity.

“11 per cent of children met the WHO definition for MIS-C. These children were older (average age 10.7 years) and more likely to be of non-white ethnicity,” the authors noted.

These children were also more likely to be admitted to critical care, show symptoms such as fatigue, headache, muscle pain and sore throat, and have a low blood platelet count, but there were no deaths in this group.

They concluded 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. However, another study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that children play a larger role in the community spread of the Covid-19.

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