Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. It has been seen that fewer children contract COVID-19 and among infected, children have less severe disease. Insights in pathophysiological mechanisms of less severity in children could be important for devising therapeutics for high-risk adults and elderly.
The largest study so far, published in Pediatrics, included analysis of 2,143 children with COVID-19 documented from Jan. 16 to Feb. 8 in China. It found that symptoms of the disease were generally less severe in children and teens compared with adults. Specifically, 4.4 percent had no symptoms, 50.9 percent had mild disease and 38.8 percent had moderate symptoms.
Of the children with symptoms, only 0.6 percent developed acute respiratory distress syndrome or multiple organ dysfunction. Of note, however, young children—particularly infants under one year of age—had a higher risk for significant illness. Ten percent of infants had severe disease, compared with 3 percent of teens over age 15.
Infections in children are mild. For clarity on what these findings might mean for kids and their parents, Kristin Moffitt, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and associate physician in pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s.
“What seems to be consistent so far, in multiple settings in multiple countries, including the U.S., is that the majority of COVID-19 infections in individuals under the age of 19 tend to be mild,” she explained. “Infection in pediatric patients of all ages tends to be associated with significantly lower rates of hospitalization and significantly lower rates of critical and severe illness.”
Relatively few children with COVID-19 are hospitalized, and fewer children than adults experience fever, cough, or shortness of breath. As of this writing today there is only a total of 14,532 serious cases. Also there has been a total of 6,543,624 in the U.S. with a total of 3,827,505 recovered and 2,521,174 active with only 194,945 deaths. For the record that is only 0.058829509880427% of 331,372,810 the total U.S. population.