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Children are unlikely to become seriously ill with coronavirus, another study shows

Children are unlikely to become seriously ill from the coronavirus, and the risk of dying from the disease is “ very low, ” another study has confirmed.

Researchers at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London looked at more than 582 children aged three years and older who were diagnosed with Covid-19 throughout Europe during the crisis in April.

The study found that less than one in 10 (8 percent) of the 363 children who went to hospital for treatment needed intensive care.

Four patients (0.68 percent) died during the study – but academics warned that the study included only patients who sought help and were tested for Covid-19.

This means that milder cases would not have been included. Therefore, they do not recommend extrapolating the numbers observed in their study to the wider population.

They say that taking milder cases into account would drastically reduce the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19 for children.

Principal investigator Dr. Marc Tebruegge, of the University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health in London, said the findings were “reassuring.”

It comes after analysis by the UK government by a top statistician from Cambridge University, revealed that children under 14 have a 1 in 3 million chance of dying from Covid.

For comparison, the risk for those over 75 is about one in 1,000 and for those over 90 it’s one in 50, according to Sir David Spiegelhalter.

It is unlikely that children will become seriously ill from the coronavirus and the risk of dying from the disease is 'very low', another study has confirmed (file)

It is unlikely that children will become seriously ill from the coronavirus and the risk of dying from the disease is ‘very low’, another study has confirmed (file)

He added, “Our study provides the most comprehensive review of Covid-19 in children and adolescents to date.

“We were reassured to find that the mortality rate in our cohort was very low and probably significantly lower, as many children with mild disease would not have been brought to medical attention and therefore would not be included in this study.

In general, the vast majority of children and young people experience only mild disease.

“Nevertheless, a notable number of children are developing serious illness and in need of intensive care, and this should be taken into account when planning and prioritizing health care resources as the pandemic progresses.”


According to a new study, nearly a third of UK pediatricians reported a delay in children who needed emergency care during the coronavirus lock.

Some 241 doctors said they were dealing with children who showed up for treatment or diagnosis later than expected before the pandemic.

The so-called ‘delayed presentations’ were most common in children with diabetes and sepsis (septicemia).

The British Pediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU) conducted a snapshot survey on April 24 asking 4,075 consultants if they had seen delayed presentations in children in the past 14 days.

It was conducted amid reports of declining emergencies in emergency departments during the Covid-19 lock in the UK.

The study authors said, “Parents should continue to have access to medical care if they have concerns and should not delay emergency treatment if their child becomes seriously ill.

“Otherwise, the unintended consequences of the blockage will do more damage and claim more children than Covid-19.”

The survey, published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, found that delayed presentation was a contributing factor in the deaths of nine children.

Some 2,433 (60%) pediatricians responded to the BPSU survey, of which 241 out of 752 (32%) consultants working in emergency and pediatric admissions said they had delayed presentations.

A total of 57 (eight percent) respondents said they had seen more than three children for diagnosis or treatment later than expected.

The survey authors acknowledged that the answers were subjective and based on opinions, adding that there were no basic data for comparison.

They said, “Our findings underscore the urgent need to improve public health reporting for parents, which until recently ordered everyone to stay at home.

Children who go to primary care and hospitals are at very low risk of SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes Covid-19] infection.’

Reports of delayed presentations varied in the UK, ranging from 14% in Wales to 47% in the Midlands and East of England – where it was the highest.

The 4,075 consultants surveyed represent more than 90% of all those working in the UK and Ireland.

Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which owns Archives of Disease in Childhood along with the British Medical Journal, said: ‘We know that parents adhered very strongly to’ staying at home ‘advice and we must say clearly that this does not apply if your child is very ill.

“When we experience a second wave or regional outbreaks, it is vital that we give parents the message that we want to see unhealthy children as soon as possible.”

The study – published in the journal Lancet Child & Adolescent Health – was carried out over a three and a half week period from April 1 to April 24, when most of Europe was at the peak of their crisis.

It involved 82 specialist healthcare facilities in 25 European countries, including the UK, Spain and Austria. Only a quarter of the children had pre-existing medical conditions.

This is in contrast to studies in adults, where the proportion of patients with co-morbidity is usually much higher.

But this likely reflects that children in the general population have fewer chronic medical problems than adults in general, the authors say.

The researchers found that the most common symptom was fever (65 percent), while about half of the infected children had signs of upper respiratory infection (54 percent). A quarter had pneumonia.

Gastrointestinal symptoms were reported in about one fifth of the children (22 percent). Some 92 children, most of whom were tested for close contact with a known case of Covid-19, had no symptoms at all (16 percent).

The vast majority of patients did not require oxygen or other support to breathe at any stage (87 percent).

Only 25 children needed mechanical ventilation (4 percent), but if they did, support was usually needed over a long period of time, often a week or more.

A total of 29 children simultaneously with SARS-CoV-2 were infected with one or more additional respiratory viruses, such as children who cause a cold or the flu strain.

Of these, 24 percent required intensive care, compared to 7 percent of the children who had Covid-19 alone.

Co-author Dr. Begona Santiago-Garcia, one of the lead authors of University Hospital Gregorio Maranón in Madrid, Spain, said, “This is the first study of children with Covid-19 using data from multiple countries and multiple centers.

‘Note that we found that children who detected additional viruses in the airways simultaneously with SARS-CoV-2 were admitted to intensive care more often.

“This could have important implications for the coming winter season, when colds and flu infections are more common.”

Four patients died during the study period, two of whom had pre-existing medical conditions. All deceased patients were over 10 years old.

However, the vast majority of patients lived when the study was closed (99 percent), while only 25 (4 percent) were still experiencing symptoms or needing support for their breathing.

At the time of the study, testing capacity was lower than demand in many European countries, so many children with Covid-19 and mild symptoms would not have been tested or diagnosed.

Different countries used different criteria to screen for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Some screened all the children who were hospitalized, while others were more selective with patients being offered a test.

This lack of standardization makes it difficult to generalize the findings to the wider population, the authors say.

But the actual death rate in children is likely to be significantly lower than that seen in this study (0.69 percent), they concluded.

Co-author Dr. Florian Götzinger, of the Wilhelminenspital Hospital in Vienna, Austria, added: “Although Covid-19 affects children less severely than adults in general, our study shows that there are serious cases in all age groups.

Those who have pre-existing health problems and children under a month are more often admitted to intensive care.

“Well-designed, randomized controlled trials of childhood antiviral and immunomodulatory drugs are needed to make evidence-based decisions about treating children with severe Covid-19.”

Figures from the British government show that schoolchildren under the age of 15 have a ‘small’ one in 3.5 million chance of dying from the coronavirus and a higher chance of lightning.

Analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the mortality rate for young people aged five to fourteen in England and Wales is around one in 3.5 million.

Under 5, it’s one in 2.3 million – only 14 people under 19 have died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 since the outbreak began.

For comparison, according to figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, between 30 and 60 people are struck by lightning in the UK each year.