Most people, especially parents, are worried that small children would be more vulnerable to Covid-19 infection and severe illness, if infected, as their body is still developing. On the contrary, current data suggests that cases of Covid-19 are much less in children as compared to adults. Now, you might be wondering why children are much better off than adults? Also Read – COVID-19 Live Updates: Cases in India surge to 85,91,730 while death toll reaches 1,27,059
One possible reason, according to researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London, is that many children already have antibodies to other coronaviruses. Also Read – This nasal spray can keep COVID-19 away for 24 hours
About 1 in 5 of the colds that commonly affect children are caused by viruses in this family. Children who have antibodies to those viruses may also be able to block SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus responsible for the ongoing pandemic. Also Read – Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine found 90% effective in preventing Covid-19
In a study, the research group found that 43% of children had these antibodies in their body, but only 5% of adults had them.
The results of the study led by George Kassiotis, who heads the Retroviral Immunology Laboratory at the institute, was recently published in Science.
Several other scientists backed the theory
Stephen J. Elledge, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, also supported the theory that many people have antibodies to common colds caused by other coronaviruses. In laboratory studies, his team found that these antibodies can block the new coronavirus as well.
While adults might get one or two colds a year, children may get up to a dozen. This may be the reason why many children already have coronavirus antibodies in their body, Elledge explained.
Even though adults may not have detectable coronavirus antibodies, many may be able to quickly make antibodies if they are infected with a coronavirus. And this explains why many adults who are infected recover quickly.
Severe COVID-19 infection very rare in babies
Another study, published in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, concluded that severe COVID-19 infection in babies is very rare.
Scientists, including those from the Imperial College London, assessed cases of COVID-19 in newborns across the UK, who needed to be admitted into hospital between the beginning of March and end of April. The babies were less than 29 days old. They found that nearly 90 per cent of them had fully recovered and had been discharged from hospital.
According to the researchers, the main symptoms of COVID-19 infection reported in the babies included high temperature, poor feeding, vomiting, a runny nose, cough and lethargy.
Here are some key findings of their study:
- Nearly half of the babies who developed severe infection were from Black, Asian or minority ethnic groups, and around one in four of the babies were born prematurely.
- 17 babies, out of the 66 newborns, were suspected to have caught COVID-19 from their mother in the first seven days after birth
- Six of them may have contracted the disease while in hospital,two in the womb
- None of the babies in the group died from COVID-19
- Nearly 90 per cent of the 66 babies had fully recovered from the infection
Most newborns who develop severe disease needed intensive care or breathing support. But the researchers said that severe infection in newborn babies is “still very rare.”
Despite being separated from their mother immediately after birth, seven newborns developed COVID-19. Thus, the scientists supported the international guidance to keep mother and baby together even when the mother is suspected or known to have COVID-19.
Published : November 11, 2020 10:33 am | Updated:November 11, 2020 10:55 am