Severe coronavirus disease, death ‘rare’ among kids, UK study finds

Amid the pandemic, reports surfaced of COVID-19 cases and deaths among children and young people, though a new study from the UK highlights how rare these cases really are.

A large team of experts found that confirmed virus cases among babies and youth under 19 only accounted for less than 1 percent of all patients in a given cohort. The in-hospital death rate was “strikingly low” among this age group, according to the report, at 1 percent compared to the cohort including all ages at 27 percent. A total of six out of 627 pediatric patients died, “all of whom had profound comorbidity,” study authors wrote.

“Severe disease was rare and death [was] exceptionally rare in this…large prospective cohort study of children admitted to hospital with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19,” study authors wrote.

The findings were published on Thursday in BMJ Journals.

“We can be quite sure that COVID in itself is not causing harm to children on a significant scale,” Malcolm Semple, co-author and a professor of outbreak medicine and child health at the University of Liverpool in Britain, told a briefing, reported Reuters.

A new study from the UK showed children have more mild SARS-CoV-2 infection than adults. (iStock)

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“The highest level message really has to be that (in children with COVID-19) severe disease is rare, and death is vanishingly rare — and that (parents) should be comforted that their children are not at direct harm by going back into school,” Semple said at a briefing, according to the outlet.

Researchers noted in the study that kids and young people only make up 1 percent to 2 percent of coronavirus cases worldwide, adding that “in contrast to other respiratory viruses, children seem to have a lower risk of infection than adults.” They also said “the vast majority of reported infections” among kids are mild or asymptomatic.

The children in the study were among nearly 70,000 patients admitted across 138 hospitals (260 hospitals for the whole cohort) in England, Scotland, and Wales between Jan. 17 to July 3.

The authors said the data proves more mild infection in children and youth compared to adults. They also found that youth who developed a rare inflammatory syndrome from their infections — MIS-C, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome — were often older and of non-white ethnicity, which is in line with earlier reports, said the researchers.

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