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.