We recently unveiled you how the coronavirus could affect children compared to adults based on a study carried out in China, but the truth is that the scientific community continues to study the mystery of why the coronavirus would affect children less than adults and it seems that answers are beginning to be found.
The coronavirus mystery: why are children less likely to get it than adults?
Rosalind Eggo , assistant professor of mathematical modeling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues have wanted to answer the mystery of the coronavirus regarding how it affects children and adults
“What we found was that people under the age of 20 were about half as susceptible to infection as people over the age of 20,” he says. Eggo.
Therefore, the children and teenagers seem much less likely adults to become infected with the virus.
“And then we also discovered that the probability of showing clinical symptoms… therefore, getting sick enough that you end up developing the infection… and that it increased from around 20% in people aged 10 to 19, to around 70% in the elderly. 70 “, said the expert.
Eggo’s research was published this week in the journal Nature . To carry it out, they used mathematical models to examine coronavirus data from six countries: China, South Korea, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Canada. The results are similar to a study conducted in April by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The US, which found that while children under the age of 18 make up 22% of the US population. In the USA, they represent less than 2% of reported cases.
Fewer cases in Africa
As reported in the study, it is clear that the implications of how SARS-CoV2 develops in children are enormous, but another of the big questions in this pandemic it is why African countries have not been more affected by the disease, with an average age of affected of 20 years, while in Europe it is 43.
With these data, the following question arises: If younger people are less susceptible to the disease, does that mean that countries with younger citizens may have less intense outbreaks?
“It is definitely something that needs to be investigated further,” he says. Eggo.
At the beginning of the study, we have to add, Eggo And his colleagues were not focused on investigating the mystery of how the coronavirus affected children. They were originally analyzing Covid-19 in relation to the spread of flu pandemics. But they realized that this virus is different. “We have not seen the same patterns. If we look at the global picture if this were like the flu, places with more children would normally be expected to have more intense epidemics. ”
Eggo says that transmission between children needs to be better understood so that officials can make plans to take precautions adequate when reopening schools.
And there are other issues or questions to ask. Should children be allowed to visit their grandparents? Or are middle-aged people most at risk for the elderly?
In fact, perhaps the most critical unknown: What role do young people have in the spread of Covid-19?
Study in the United States
Megan Culler Freeman, virologist and pediatrician, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, say what Children are the main spreaders of many other respiratory diseases.
“Children go to kindergarten, go to school, especially the youngest [que] they are not necessarily so polite with coughing and sneezing », Freeman says. “So it’s really easy for those diseases to spread.”
However, That has not been reported so far with the Covid-19.
Freeman, who studied coronaviruses for his doctorate, says children are clearly susceptible to the other known coronaviruses that circulate each year during the cold and flu season. However, something different is happening with this new one.
“We have had a lot of cases in the United States and around the world. And really a minority of those have been identified in children, “says the virologist. “Somewhere between 2 and 5% of all infections [reportadas] they are in children under the age of 18, which is somewhat surprising. “
There are a couple of hypotheses as to why, Freeman says.. One is that children get a milder form of the disease. If they show no symptoms, they may never be tested. And so those infections are not counted.
Freeman adds that there is also some research showing that the receptors in human cells to which the coronavirus binds are less developed in younger people.
But Both Eggo and Freeman say it is still unclear exactly why children are less at risk of contracting the virus., why so few cases have been detected in children and everything indicates that this trend will continue.
“It seems that children may be less affected than adults. But I think that its role in the dissemination of the community has not yet been proven «, Freeman says. Throughout the world, from Abuja to Aruba and Arkansas, schools were closed in the early stages of the outbreaks. “So we don’t know how things are going to change if that variable comes back into play.”
Some countries have started reopening schools, but that’s mainly in places like Hong Kong and New Zealand, where transmission levels are incredibly low.
“If schools reopen in places where transmission levels remain high, it may give a clearer idea.” Freeman says, “How much transmission is driven by children”.