UK Variant Not Causing Worse Illness in Children

By Reuters Staff

February 18, 2021

(Reuters) - The coronavirus variant first identified in the UK does not cause more severe disease in children than variants circulating earlier in 2020, a single-center study suggests.

Doctors at King's College Hospital in London compared 20 children hospitalized for COVID-19 during the pandemic's first wave and 60 hospitalized during the second wave, when most infections were caused by the new variant.

More children were hospitalized in the second wave, but "this might be due to the higher prevalence of SARS-CoV-2" at the time, study leader Dr. Atul Gupta told Reuters. The number of adult patients also increased in the second wave, he noted.

Hospitalized children in both waves had similar ages, rates of underlying medical conditions, socioeconomic status and other risk factors, the researchers reported in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

In both periods, few children needed oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation, and those treatments were actually needed less often in the second wave, Gupta said.

"We have found no evidence of more severe disease having occurred in children and young people during the second wave," he concluded, "suggesting that infection with the B.1.1.7 variant does not result in an appreciably different clinical course" in this age group.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3aqLPj4 The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, online February 10, 2021.

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