Covid-19: children can have viruses and antibodies

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The question of viral load, contagion or even immunity of children in the context of the Covid-19 epidemic is still debated. What do the latest studies say?

"Super pollutants". This phrase was used at the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic to refer to children. If the latter seemed less affected by Covid-19 than adults, some data points to their decisive role in the transmission of the virus. But this is not the only question that remains about children and Covid-19: why are they less affected? What is your viral load? Do they have a particular immunity to the virus? So many questions that researchers are trying to answer. A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics helps advance research further: it reveals that coronavirus and antibodies could coexist in young Covid-19 patients.

Covid-19: Viruses and Antibodies Could Coexist in Children

Before making this discovery, the researchers simply wanted to know how long it took children to clear the virus from their bodies and when they began to produce antibodies. Therefore, the scientists analyzed a retrospective of 6,369 children hospitalized for Covid-19 and followed 215 of them. Of these, 33 were screened for the disease.

Surprise: 9 of them were not only positive for the virus, but had also developed antibodies. "With most viruses, when you start detecting antibodies, you no longer detect the virus. But with Covid-19, we see both. This means that children still have the potential to transmit the virus, even if antibodies are detected," says Burak Bahar, lead author of the study. Results that, therefore, raise questions about the contagion of children.

Covid-19: high viral load in children

A study published in August in the Journal of Pediatrics looked at the role of children in transmitting the virus.

For the purposes of this work, the researchers followed 192 hospitalized children ages 0-22. 49 of them tested positive for Covid-19 and another 18 children had a late illness related to Covid-19. The researchers found that infected children had a significantly higher level of the virus in the respiratory tract than adults hospitalized in the same hospital.

"I did not expect the viral load to be that high. You think of a hospital and all the precautions that are taken to treat critically ill adults, but the viral load of these hospital patients is significantly lower than that of a healthy child. walking with a high viral load, "says Lael Yonker, lead author of the study.

The risk of transmission of Covid-19 is higher with a high viral load, this study confirms the important role of children in the transmission of the virus.

10 to 100 times more genetic material of the virus in children

Another study published at the end of July in the journal JAMA Pediatrics already confirmed the role of children in the spread of Covid-19. To reach this conclusion, the researchers followed three groups: the first with 46 children under the age of five, the second with 51 children and adolescents ages 5 to 17, and the last with 48 adults ages 18 to 17. All participants tested positive for Covid-19.

To assess the level of genetic material in each participant, they underwent PCR testing, which involves removing cells from the back of the nose with a swab. As a result, the level of virus genetic material in the noses of children under the age of five was 10 to 100 times higher than that found in older children and adults.

"Our analyzes suggest that children under 5 years of age with mild to moderate Covid-19 have high amounts of Sars-CoV-2 viral RNA in their nasopharynx compared to older children and adults," explains the researchers. "Thus, young children can potentially be factors in the spread of Sars-CoV-2 in the general population," they conclude.

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