Health Care

Singapore scientists find Covid-19 variant with milder infections

Singapore scientists find Covid-19 variant with milder infections”

Kids who tested positive displayed much higher levels of the virus in their airways than even adult ICU coronavirus patients.

"I used to be shocked by the excessive ranges of virus we present in kids of all ages, particularly within the first two days of an infection", Dr. Lael Yonker, director of the MGH Cystic Fibrosis Heart and lead writer of the research, mentioned. One of the studies, published in JAMA Pediatrics on July 30, found that children less than five years old with mild to moderate coronavirus-related illness have high levels of the virus in their noses when compared to older kids and adults.

"This suggests that although children and young adults with asthma may commonly experience exacerbation in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection, asthma exacerbation is not the primary determinant of more severe disease requiring hospitalization", they wrote.

But this did not correlate with a decreased viral load, which the researchers said suggests children can be more contagious, regardless of their susceptibility to developing Covid-19 in the first place. Time has confirmed that most children appear to have mild disease or no symptoms, but why that is remains a mystery. Even the ones that do often develop symptoms that can be confused for influenza or the common cold.

These findings, of course, have major implications as school across the country begin to open their doors to students for a new school year.

Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at MGH and senior author of the study, said in the same interview that, "Kids are not immune from this infection, and their symptoms don't correlate with exposure and infection", she said.

"During this COVID-19 pandemic, we have mainly screened symptomatic subjects, so we have reached the erroneous conclusion that the vast majority of people infected are adults", he said in the release. As we slowly gain insight of the virus behind the pandemic, we are hopeful of the possible vaccine development that will surely help everyone fight Covid-19 and prepare us for any other viruses that might show up in the future. "We shouldn't discount children as potential spreaders." .

These findings effect far more people than just children. For example, in the MGHfC study, 51% of children with acute COVID-19 infection came from low-income communities compared to 2% from high-income communities. Conversely, only 2% live in high-income communities.

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The result challenges current prevailing hypothesis that having lower number of immune receptors of novel coronavirus make children less likely to become infected or seriously ill.

As well as viral load, researchers examined expression of the viral receptor and antibody response in healthy children, children with acute Sars-CoV-2 infection and a smaller number of children with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). He added that since children seldom show symptoms, they were largely ignored and not tested at the start of the outbreak.

Going virtual the smarter option?

In order to keep children, teachers, and personnel safe, the study recommends not relying on body temperature or symptom monitoring to identify COVID-19 in the school setting. "Therefore, all children should follow strict precautions - wear masks, follow physical distancing, practise good hand hygiene and consider remote learning".

"This research supplies much-needed info for policymakers to make the flawless choices doable for colleges, daycare facilities and different establishments that serve kids", Fasano mentioned.

The researchers caution that hurried reopening of schools without adequate planning could result in a rise in infections.

As schools plan to reopen, understanding the potential role children play in the spread of the disease and the factors that drive severe illness in children is critical, experts say.

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