Saturday, July 17, 2021

Severe Covid illness 'extremely rare' in children

In Children, Risk of Covid-19 Death or Serious Illness Remains Extremely Low, New Studies Find - Wall Street Journal - Denise Roland:

July 8, 2021 - "Children are at extremely slim risk of dying from Covid-19, according to some of the most comprehensive studies to date, which indicate the threat might be even lower than previously thought. 

"Some 99.995% of the 469,982 children in England who were infected during the year examined by researchers survived, one study found. In fact, there were fewer deaths among children due to the virus than initially suspected. Among the 61 child deaths linked to a positive Covid-19 test in England, 25 were actually caused by the illness, the study found.

"The three studies, by researchers in the U.K. reviewing its national health system’s medical records or pulling together data from other countries, were published on preprint servers Thursday. The studies haven’t yet been reviewed by independent experts and are preliminary. The studies provide some of the most detailed analysis yet of severe illness and death from Covid-19 in children, a closely watched subject as schools prepare for a new academic year and parents weigh whether to have their children vaccinated if shots are cleared for younger ages. One of the studies focused only on deaths, while the other two examined the risks of severe illness and death.... 

"Researchers conducting the death study analyzed several national databases to identify children under 18 across England who had died from Covid-19 in the first year of the pandemic, from March 1, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021. 'England is a large enough country and it’s had enough Covid, sadly, that we have better data than almost anywhere else in the world on the risks,' said Russell Viner, a professor of adolescent health at the University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and senior author on the death study as well as another looking at English hospital and intensive-care admissions. Researchers from the University of Bristol, University of York and University of Liverpool were also key contributors to the three papers....

"Underlying health conditions, especially serious brain or nerve-related disabilities, increased the risk of dying of Covid-19, according to the study looking at child deaths. Fifteen of the 25 children in England who died because of Covid-19 during the period examined had underlying serious illnesses, the researchers said, while four had chronic underlying conditions.... Three of the deaths were due to multisystem inflammatory syndrome.... Six of the children who died due to Covid-19 didn’t appear to have an underlying health condition.... No child with a stand-alone diagnosis of asthma, diabetes, epilepsy or Down syndrome died from Covid-19, the researchers said.

"Underlying health conditions also raised the risk of severe illness, the two other papers said.... [O]ne of the studies ... found a higher risk of admission to intensive care among children with health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease. Those with multiple conditions had the highest risk. Even so, the absolute risk was very small, the researchers said.

"The studies all related to time periods that predated the emergence of the Delta variant that is now dominant in both the U.K. and the U.S., but the authors said there was as yet no evidence that the variant causes more severe illness or death among children.

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