Children are five times more likely to show an asymptomatic course of infection. Their immune response is also more stable, according to the study from Baden-Württemberg.
What is the course of COVID-19 infection in children? Are they protected after a mild course? Scientists from the University Hospitals in Freiburg, Heidelberg, Tübingen and Ulm and the Natural and Medical Sciences Institute NMI in Reutlingen have investigated these central questions in a COVID-19 children’s study.
For this purpose, 328 households were observed, with at least one member having a previous laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. A total of 548 children aged 6 to 14 years and 717 adults participated. In families with one infected person, children (34 percent) were significantly less likely to become infected than adults (58 percent) and – if infected – were five times more likely to be asymptomatic, meaning without signs of illness (adults: 9 percent, children: 45 percent).
Nevertheless, the children showed stronger and longer-lasting specific antibody levels than adults eleven to twelve months after infection. This was true whether or not signs of disease were present. Childhood antibodies are well effective against different viral variants, so even children who are not visibly ill should be protected after infection. None of the infected children required hospitalization.
Adults and children also differed in reported symptoms. While fever, cough, diarrhea, and taste disturbance were equally good indicators of infection in adults, only taste disturbance was a clear indicator of COVID-19 infection in children (in 87 percent). Cough and fever were indicative of infection only as age increased, starting around age 12.
In summary, it appears that children recovered from COVID-19 develop very effective and persistent immune defenses against new coronavirus infections, despite an often very mild or even symptom-free course. There is evidence that children’s immune defenses even surpass those of adults.
- source: heute.at/picture: pixabay.com
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