It remains true that children are not as badly affected by Covid-19 as older people. However, we know that young people are more likely to catch the virus. In the US, 14% of all Covid-19 cases have been in children.
Now, as our knowledge of Covid-19 deepens, its effects on kids are becoming better known.
How likely are children to get long Covid?
Given that most covid studies predate the dominance of the delta variant, we can’t be sure what proportion of children will suffer long covid as a result of the current delta variant outbreak.
However, more than 40% of kids diagnosed with Covid-19 may suffer a persistent symptom four months after diagnosis, according to a study conducted in Italy. Roughly half of those report being impaired in their everyday life because of it. Fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache, and respiratory problems were common symptoms.
How bad is long Covid for children?
A separate study in the UK surveyed 510 parents of kids suffering from long Covid. They were contacted via the Long Covid Kids social media group, meaning their experience is indicative but not representative.
Of those children, parents’ reports suggest 80% felt fatigue and weakness. Roughly the same percentage experienced headaches and abdominal pain, and most kids suffered from multiple symptoms.
The children were significantly impaired in their day-to-day life. In many cases, physical activity leads to relapse into viral fatigue.
The apparent recovery of these children followed by relapse into Covid sickness is a haunting feature of long-term Covid. The mean time suffering symptoms was 8 months among kids in the study.
The one saving grace is the selection bias of the study. The hospitalisation rate of these children (4.3%) is notably more than the normal rate of those children who test positive for Covid-19 (0.1 – 1.9%). This suggests the Long Covid Kids study overstates the prevalence of the suffering, though not its nature.
Children need vaccine access
PM Scott Morrison is currently saying that lock-downs will become less likely once the vaccination rate hits 70%. International borders will supposedly open if/when 80% of the country has been vaccinated. However, these numbers refer to the adult population, and do not include children.
Following further safety and efficacy studies, vaccines are increasingly being approved for children and young people. It is essential that they and their schoolteachers are able to be vaccinated before we attempt to enter post-lockdown society.
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Feature image courtesy of @bermixstudio via Unsplash.