In mid-March 2020, many countries, including Argentina, decided to suspend face-to-face classes as a precaution in response to the relentless advance of the coronavirus. Conversely, Sweden chose a different path and kept schools open for most of the year.
How did this country do with your strategy? The medical journal The New England Journal of Medicine recently presented a study that analyzes data from Sweden on hospitalizations for Covid-19 in children aged 1 to 16 years and their teachers.
According to the results of the study, the coronavirus has had a low incidence of severe cases among school-age children during the pandemic.
Researchers followed all children admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) between March 1 and June 30, 2020 (school year ended around June 10) with laboratory-verified or clinically verified Covid-19, including patients admitted for multisystem inflammatory syndrome, according to the Swedish Pediatric Rheumatology Quality Registry.
The number of deaths from any cause among the 1,951,905 children in Sweden between the ages of 1 and 16 was 65 during the pre-Covid-19 period (between November 2019 to February 2020) and 69 during the first four months of exposure to the virus (March to June 2020). From March to June 2020, a total of 15 children with Covid-19 (including those with MIS-C) were admitted to an ICU (0.77 per 100,000 children in this age group), four of whom were between 1 and 6 years old (0.54 per 100,000) and 11 of whom were between 7 and 16 years old (0, 90 per 100,000). Four of the children had an underlying chronic coexisting disease. No child with Covid-19 died.
On the other hand, data from the Swedish Public Health Agency showed that fewer than 10 preschool teachers and 20 elementary and middle school teachers entered an ICU for Covid-19 until June 30, 2020 (19 per 100,000). Compared to other occupations (excluding health workers), this corresponded to age- and sex-adjusted relative risks of 1.10 among preschool teachers and 0.43 in the other group.
The present study had some limitations. The researchers lacked data on the transmission of Covid-19 in the homes of schoolchildren and they did not offer a comparative picture of the situation in other countries.
Despite the fact that Sweden kept schools and pre-schools open, the results show a low incidence of severe Covid-19 among schoolchildren and preschool children during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Among the 1.95 million children between the ages of 1 and 16, 15 children had Covid-19, MIS-C, or both and were admitted to an ICU, which is equivalent to 0.77 children out of 100,000.