SARS-CoV-2: What role do children play in the corona pandemic?
It has long been known that coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is very different in those infected. For example, risk groups such as the elderly, obese, immunocompromised or people with certain previous illnesses have a higher risk of developing a severe course. Children, on the other hand, don’t get so sick. And they are not “virus hurlers” either.
There’s a lot of discussion going on what role children play in the corona pandemic. Dr. Nicolaus Schwerk, specialist in pediatric pneumology and allergology at the Hannover Medical School (MHH) provides information in one Message about the current state of knowledge.
No exact statements are possible yet
Are children less often infected with the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus than older people? How contagious are they and how big is the risk that they will become seriously ill?
One thing is certain: At the moment there can be no exact statements, only estimates.
“We lack the data,” says Dr. Nicolaus Schwerk. “We need systematic studies of large numbers of children with and without symptoms and over a longer period of time.”
Lower risk of serious illnesses
According to the current assessment by Dr. The danger of getting infected is heavy, for children it is similar to that for adults.
However, there are indications that the risk for children – if they are infected – of being seriously ill is significantly lower than for adults.
“One theory says that we know that there are other corona viruses that circulate in the community and cause colds. And because children often have a cold, it is believed that some of these antibodies offer some protection against this corona virus, ”explained the doctor.
“The other thing is that children’s immune systems may interact with this virus, which is different from what we see in some older adults or people with more severe illness,” said Dr. Rajapakse.
And: “An additional factor can be related to the fact that children suffer less from other underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases or weakened immune systems than older adults.”
Viral load in children no greater than in adults
According to the MHH communication, the term “virus thrower” that is used in the media cannot apply to children according to current knowledge. They seem to have the same risk of infection as adults.
Dr. Schwerk refers to the recently published one study by Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten from the Charité Berlin. There is evidence here that the viral load – the amount of virus that infected people produce – is just as great in children as in adults.
However, Prof. Drosten himself limits the informative value of this study. Because the decisive studies – school and household contact studies – could not be done at the moment because these situations – school and household – currently do not exist or are falsified.
Deaths among children are now also reported from abroad.
Dr. However, Schwerk emphasizes that it is not clear from the previous publications whether these children died from this SARS-CoV-2 infection or from another cause and that they also had the virus in them.
The expert can be reassured: the number of known child deaths has been negligible compared to the published number of infected children. (ad)
This article contains general information only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.