Rare long COVID risk for children beyond 12 weeks
A systematic review of young patients with COVID-19 found that children and adolescents “rarely” exhibit persistent symptoms of what is known as “long COVID” after 12 weeks, even in the case of the Delta variant more virulent.
The results on the long-term impact of COVID on children contrast with the risk and impact of the more virulent COVID Delta variant on adults, the authors noted.
To date, no child under the age of 10 has died in Australia with COVID-19 and one teenager has died – NSW teenager Osama Subuh, who died in August at Sydney Children’s Hospital, where he was also being treated for pneumococcal meningitis.
The results of the Murdoch Children’s Institute (MCRI) review have been published in the Journal of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Friday. He analyzed the findings of 14 different international studies that 19,426 children and adolescents who reported persistent symptoms as a result of COVID-19.
MCRI professor and lead author Nigel Curtis is also an expert in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne and in charge of infectious diseases at the Royal Children’s Hospital. He said it was reassuring that the review found “little evidence” that symptoms of COVID lasted long in children, suggesting it may be of less concern for people in age groups. much younger.
“The low risk posed by the acute illness means that one of the main benefits of vaccinating children and adolescents with COVID could be protecting them from a long COVID,” Curtis said.
However, the researchers also indicated that more studies examining the risk and impact of long-term COVID in young people are needed to help guide vaccine policy decisions for certain age groups.
– Dr Nick Coatsworth (@nick_coatsworth) September 17, 2021
Curtis pointed out that while COVID-positive children were generally asymptomatic or had a mild disease with low hospitalization rates, the risk and characteristics of long COVIDs were still poorly understood.
“Current studies lack a clear case definition and age-related data, have variable follow-up times, and rely on symptoms that are self-reported or reported by parents without laboratory confirmation,” he said. he declares.
“Another important issue is that many studies have low response rates, which means they might overestimate the risk of COVID for a long time. “
Professor Curtis added that one of the main limitations of all current studies regarding the long COVID in children and adolescents, was that some have failed to show the difference between patients with SARS-CoV-2. and their experience of symptoms against those who were not infected with the virus.
“Accurate determination of the risk of COVID long in this age group is therefore crucial in the debate on the risks and benefits of vaccination,” he said.
Review co-author Dr Petra Zimmermann said it was difficult to distinguish the long symptoms of COVID from other negative effects that could be caused by indirect effects of the pandemic, such as the closure of schools, the inability to spend time with friends or participate in sports and hobbies.
“This highlights why it is essential that future studies involve more rigorous control groups, including children with other infections and those admitted to hospital or intensive care for other reasons,” said Zimmermann.
According to Professor Andrew Steer of MCRI, co-chair of the institute’s governance group, there were two main reasons behind the need for more data on the impact of COVID on young people: the emergence of the Delta strain the more virulent spreading in the community, and due to the priority for adults to receive vaccines.
In total, 22% of all COVID-19 cases were in people aged 19 and under as of September 5, 2021. Globally, more than 226.9 million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded by health authorities and more than 4.6 million deaths have been recorded.
“As restrictions relax and the circulation of other respiratory viruses increases, we also need to understand whether co-infection with other respiratory viruses, such as RSV or influenza, increases the severity of illness in patients. young people, ”added Steer.
A research brief also recently published by the MCRI pointed out that some child deaths abroad were caused by a condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Most of these deaths occurred in the early stages of the pandemic, the brief said, and early diagnosis and better treatment since then have improved outcomes.
The brief noted that a total of four cases (MIS-C) have been recorded in Australian children and no deaths.
The MCRI brief also found that while the Delta strain did not cause more serious illness in children, those with pre-existing health conditions such as obesity, kidney and heart problems, and other disorders. immune systems were 25 times more likely to catch severe COVID than those without.
“A recent systematic review reported that severe cases of COVID-19 occurred in 5.1% of children and adolescents with pre-existing conditions and 0.2% without, ”the brief revealed.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Friday that more than 45.3% of Australians over the age of 16 were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. More than 64.5% of adults over 50 had received two doses of the vaccine as of September 17.
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– Australian Government Department of Health (@healthgovau) September 17, 2021