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EXPLAINED: WHY CHILDREN ARE LESS AFFECTED, MORE SUSCEPTIBLE BY COVID-19

Why in news?

Research suggests that while everyone is susceptible to COVID-19, people over the age of 60 and children are particularly vulnerable.

Why children are less affected?

  • In the early stages of the outbreak, it was found that COVID-19 was predominantly prevalent in adults over the age of 15 years, while the proportion of confirmed cases among children remained relatively smaller.
  • Researchers found that it had been difficult to track the disease among children as they could not “clearly describe their own health status or contact history”.
  • This, researchers said, contributed to the “severe challenge of protecting, diagnosing, and treating this population”.
  • In China, children under the age of 18 accounted for about 2.4 per cent of all reported cases till publication of the study.
  • To compare COVID-19 to other coronavirus outbreaks, during SARS in 2002-2003, the global number of children infected (between age groups of 4 months to 17 years) was less than 0.02 per cent of the total cases and no deaths were reported.
  • Those severely affected accounted for over 7.9 per cent of the total cases of children.
  • During the MERS outbreak, on the other hand children less than 19 years of age accounted for less than 2.2 per cent of all cases.

COVID-19 characteristics in children, according to research

  • Citing existing epidemiological data, researchers say that 56 per cent of children demonstrated evidence of transmission through family gatherings and 43 per cent had a history of exposure to the epidemic site in China.
  • In China, the first infant diagnosed with the disease was 17 days old. The youngest, probably, was a newborn confirmed to have been infected 36 hours after birth following a cesarean delivery.
  • Significantly, the researchers noted that the incubation period in children was longer than in adults, which is approximately 6.5 days as compared to roughly 5.4 days in adults.
  • Children infected with the virus show milder symptoms, a faster recovery, shorter “detoxification time” and a good prognosis as compared to adults, researchers found.
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September 2022
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