Covid: Children’s extremely low risk confirmed by study
The overall risk of children becoming severely ill or dying from Covid is extremely low, a new analysis of Covid infection data confirms.
Scientists from University College London, and the Universities of York, Bristol, and Liverpool say their studies of children are the most comprehensive yet anywhere in the world.
- Around 15 had life-limiting or underlying conditions, including 13 living with complex neuro-disabilities
- Six had no underlying conditions recorded in the last five years – though researchers caution some illnesses may have been missed.
- A further 36 children had a positive Covid test at the time of their death but died from other causes, the analysis suggests
- Though the overall risks were still low, children and young people who died were more likely to be over ten and of Black and Asian ethnicity.
Researchers estimate that 25 deaths in a population of some 12 million children in England give a broad, overall mortality rate of 2 per million children.
‘Hospital stays rare.’
Separately, scientists considered all children and young people in England who had an emergency hospital admission for Covid up to February 2021:
- Some 5,800 children were admitted with the virus, compared to about 367,600 admitted for other emergencies (excluding injuries)
- About 250 required intensive care
- There were 690 children admitted for a rare inflammatory condition linked to Covid, called pediatric inflammatory, multisystem syndrome (PIMS-TS)
- Though the absolute risks were still small, children living with multiple conditions, obese, and young people with heart and neurological illnesses were most at risk.
Lead researcher Prof Russell Viner said complex decisions around vaccinating and shielding children required input from many sources – not their work alone.
But he said if there were adequate vaccines, their research suggested certain groups of children could benefit from receiving Covid jabs.
He said further vaccine data – expected imminently from other countries, including the US and Israel – should be considered when making the decision.
Dr. Elizabeth Whittaker, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Imperial College London, said it was encouraging they were seeing very few seriously unwell children in hospital.
She added: “Although this data covers up to February 2021, this hasn’t changed recently with the Delta variant. We hope this data will be reassuring for children and young people and their families.”