In corona virus outbreaks, children are at less risk than adults – this is the first observation based on scientists’ statistical data. What does this mean?
As of February 6, of the more than 28,000 corona virus cases recorded worldwide (most in mainland China), doctors noticed a phenomenon: relatively few child patients appeared. severe symptoms.
“The average age of patients is from 49-56. The number of cases of children infected is relatively small,” commented a report published in the journal JAMA of the American Medical Association on February 5, New York newspaper. Times quoted again.
Why is the number of children not sick?
“My most prudent guess is that children are still infected with the virus but the disease is only mildly flare-ups. Scientists don’t record more pediatric patients probably because we don’t have data on minor illnesses. “, says Malik Peiris, MD, director of virology at Hong Kong University.
“If the corona virus spreads all over the world, reaching the scale of seasonal flu, we may see more cases,” Peiris added.
In a case observed by researchers, a 10-year-old Chinese boy went to the Wuhan epidemic with his family. After they returned to Shenzhen, other family members, aged 36-66, developed symptoms of fever, sore throat, diarrhea and pneumonia.
The baby also shows signs of viral pneumonia through the scan, but has no obvious external symptoms. Doctors say this could be a typical case of the virus in children.
“What is certain is that children may not exhibit symptoms or develop very mild illness,” said Dr Raina MacIntyre, an epidemiologist at the University of New South Wales (Australia).
This pattern was also observed during the SARS and MERS epidemic phase, which belongs to the corona virus family. When MERS broke out in Saudi Arabia (2012) and South Korea (2015), more than 800 people died but most children did not show symptoms.
Similarly, the SARS epidemic in 2003 also did not kill children. The majority of the nearly 800 victims are aged 45 and over, with men at higher risk.
Of the more than 8,000 cases of SARS, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified 135 pediatric patients. Children under 12 are less likely to be hospitalized, oxygenated or in need of assistance, and children over 12 years of age have symptoms similar to adults.
“We do not fully understand the reason for this phenomenon. But that is what we are seeing – with SARS the picture is even clearer,” said Dr. Peiris.
Accurate data on corona virus are still under investigation
In fact, the infection of children in the virus is only mild illness, while in adults is very serious, is not unusual. Chickenpox, for example, has few sequelae in children but can be devastating in adults.
According to Dr. Peiris, the strange flu is that it evolved with humans for thousands of years, infecting millions of people every year. However, of the thousands of children hospitalized for influenza each year, only a small percentage die.
Adults are more at risk because they have a range of other diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, which weaken their ability to fight off viruses. Along with age, the immune system in the body also weakens, especially after middle age.
“Changes occur at age 50. The immune system then declines significantly, which is why in most cases of infection and viral infections, we see a higher incidence of complications in the elderly,” he said. added MacIntyre.
Another important question concerns the corona virus: Can children infected with symptoms without the virus spread to others?
“We know young people in general – not just children, but also teenagers and young adults – meet and interact most in society. They don’t realize they are sick and can cause the rate of transmission. spread of the epidemic, “said Dr. MacIntyre.
To understand corona epidemic, scientists now need more detailed data: When people are exposed to the virus, when the first symptoms appear, how many cases are milder than the symptoms. heavy…
As new data emerge, current observations may change, such as recording a high risk in men.
However, according to Dr. Mark Denison, child infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University (USA), the rate of infection in children will not increase sharply compared to today.
“I don’t think the number of uninformed children is high. This means that not many children in China get sick, or in other words they are not at great risk,” he stated his point.
(Source of reference: New York Times)