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Children and COVID-19: Why they don't get so sick
Children are not immune to the corona virus. They become infected with the virus and can spread it, but they don't get as sick as adults. A specialist in pediatric infectious diseases explains why this could be so.
It has been known for a long time that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is very different in the infected. For example, risk groups such as the elderly, immunocompromised or people with certain previous diseases of the lungs or heart have a higher risk of developing a severe course. Children, on the other hand, don't get so sick. An expert from the USA gives an insight into the (possible) reasons.
Nobody is immune
"There is some interesting information about children and this new coronavirus," explains Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the renowned Mayo Clinic (USA), in an article.
"Theories about why children do not get so sick have to do with their exposure to other coronaviruses that cause colds and their immune system," said the doctor.
“We know that nobody is immune to it because it is a new or new virus that we have not been exposed to in the past. So we don't think anyone already has immunity to it. ”
Children could be better protected due to frequent colds
"Children who have been diagnosed with an infection appear to get sick only slightly or not at all," says Dr. Rajapakse.
“One theory says that we know that there are other corona viruses that circulate in the community and cause colds. And because children often have a cold, it is suspected that some of these antibodies offer some protection against this coronavirus, ”explains the doctor.
"The other thing is that children's immune systems may interact with this virus, which is different from what we see in some older adults or people with more serious illness," says Dr. Rajapakse.
Children hardly have any risky previous illnesses
"An additional factor can be related to the fact that children suffer from other underlying health conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases or weakened immune systems, much less frequently than older adults," explains Dr. Rajapakse.
"These previous illnesses seem to be an important risk factor for the development of a more severe and complicated illness in adults," said the expert.
"So far, there have been very few reports of how children with some of these pre-existing conditions were when they became infected, and they are a group that we need to learn more about quickly."
According to Dr. Rajapakse is researching all of these theories to find out more about how COVID-19 affects children. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Mayo Clinic: Kids and COVID-19: Why they are not getting as sick, (accessed: March 18, 2020), Mayo Clinic