For 10 weeks now, the attention of the whole world has been riveted tooutbreak of a new coronavirus, but what exactly do scientists know about it? Available data indicate that the virus is able to spread by airborne droplets and contact routes, and one person is able to infect about 2.2 others on average. But over time, the question of whether the children of CoVID-2019 is sick has become especially relevant. We recently told you that the new coronavirus infects even domestic animals, but so far relatively few cases have been reported among children. Today, researchers concluded that children, too, get coronavirus simply in a fairly mild form. But why?
Children also get CoVID-19, but in a different way
According to the results of a meta-analysis carried outresearchers from Johns Hopkins University and Chinese experts, of more than 72,000 confirmed cases in China, children under 10 years old accounted for less than 1%. Of the 1,023 deaths recorded in China at the height of the outbreak, not a single child was. But why? As a rule, all respiratory pathogens primarily affect two groups - young and old people, but in the case of coronavirus, everything is different. As the results of the meta-analysis showed, the point is not that the children are somehow immune to CoVID-2019. They just do not get very sick.
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According to the authors of the study, Wired,children are infected with the new coronavirus like adults. At the very beginning of the outbreak, Chinese researchers monitored the spread of the infection by monitoring the state of people with fever in hospitals and local clinics. In total, health officials identified 391 patients with CoVID-19 and 1286 people who could become infected. Scientists watched quarantined patients to determine how symptoms would appear and whether it was possible to get the new coronavirus unnoticed. The team found that children aged 9 years and younger are also susceptible to infection, like other age groups. In this case, the symptoms in children are not so pronounced as in adults. Moreover, many children did not show any symptoms at all. The work was published on the medRxiv preprint server.
Can children play a role in the spread of coronavirus?
The findings do not explain why childrena milder form of the disease develops. But earlier studies conducted on a genetic relative of the SARS-CoV-2 virus provide some clues: during the outbreak in 2003, not a single young person under the age of 24 died. In severe cases of SARS, the patient first had a fever and cough, and the virus multiplied rapidly in the lungs. After about a week, the state of health improved, but the second, more acute phase of the disease began. The results of another study then showed that high mortality in the second stage of the disease was caused not by the virus, but by the immune response to the pathogen. At the same time, older people fell into the risk group.
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It may take years before scientistsfind out the mechanism underlying why CoVID-19 is less harmful to children. However, the most alarming is another question: if children can become infected, they probably play a role in the further spread of the disease, as their milder symptoms may go unnoticed. For this reason, the researchers believe, quarantine schools can be an important step in preventing further transmission. Recall that the situation with the spread of a new coronavirus every day more and more resembles a pandemic. Read what to do in order not to get sick and how to prevent the spread of CoVID-2019 in our special material.