Children can simultaneously have the coronavirus AND antibodies that fight infection in their bodies, research finds, raising questions about how long they will remain contagious when schools reopen
- Researchers looked at 6,300 children who tested positive for COVID-19 and 215 children who underwent antibody tests
- About 15% of children tested positive for both the virus and the antibodies, with nine testing positive for antibodies first
- Patients between the ages of six and 15 took almost twice the time to clear the virus than patients between the ages of 16 and 22
- It remains unclear whether the virus present at the same time as antibodies can be passed on to others
Children may be infected with the new coronavirus, but at the same time have antibodies against the disease in their blood, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that 15 percent of pediatric patients had the virus and a built-up immune response at the same time.
Younger patients also took twice as long to clear the coronavirus from their systems than patients in their teens and early twenties.
The team at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, says the findings still leave many questions unanswered, such as how long children are contagious and at what point they start making antibodies that work against COVID-19.
In a new study, 15% of children tested positive for both the new coronavirus and antibodies at the same time, with nine testing positive for antibodies first (above)
Patients between the ages of six and 15 took nearly twice as long to clear the virus than patients between the ages of 16 and 22. , April 4
“We wanted to see what’s going on in our patient population,” lead author Dr. Burak Bahar, director of Laboratory Informatics at Children’s National, told DailyMail.com.
‘Is there a link between clearing up the virus and the appearance of antibodies? We wanted to see a timeline. ‘
For the study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, the team looked at more than 6,300 children who tested positive for COVID-19 and 215 children who underwent antibody testing.
They were all patients at Children’s National between March 13 and June 21.
Of the 215 patients, 33 tested for both SARS-CoV-2 and antibodies during their illness.
Nine of the 33 tested positive for antibodies in their blood before testing positive for the virus.
Researchers found that it took patients between the ages of six and 15 to clear the virus almost twice as long as patients aged 16 to 22.
The younger patients tested negative after a median time of 32 days compared to the older patients who cleared the virus after a median time of 18 days.
In addition, women in the younger patient group took much longer – about 44 days – to clear the virus, compared to 25.5 days for men in the same age group.
There are two main types of antibodies. IgM antibodies are made by the body a few days after infection, while IgG antibodies are produced in the late stages of infection and can persist for months and possibly years after a person has recovered.
“Our general medical knowledge is that once you detect antibodies, you no longer detect the virus,” Buhar said.
“But in COVID-19 we do see cases of both types of antibodies in some patients, so this was interesting to us.”
Antibodies usually appeared after about 18 days, while it took about 25 days for the virus to be positive and the virus to be negative.
Bahar says the next step in the research will be to test whether the virus that is present with antibodies at the same time can be passed on to others.
She adds that it is important that people are not wary, because it is not known whether antibodies correlate with immunity and how long that immunity can last.
“Having antibodies in circulation doesn’t necessarily protect you and doesn’t mean you don’t spread the virus,” Bahar said.
“So keep wearing masks, wash your hands and socialize.”