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As the COVID-19 pandemic has surged through communities around the globe, children have often been spared from the worst of the disease's impacts. While children of all ages can become ill with respiratory illness, most kids who are infected typically do not become as sick as adults, and some might not show any symptoms at all.
After reports of MISC (a multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children), Delhi hospitals are seeing children who had mild COVID coming to them with delayed recovery. These children have also been reported to have post-COVID symptoms like gastric issues, headaches, brain fogging and shortness of breath .
The doctors from the Delhi hospital said, "fortunately, children did not have very severe COVID-19. We got a handful of patients who had congenital heart disease, some kidney disorders, severe asthma or obesity who required hospitalisation ."
Children who had severe COVID-19 and symptoms like shortness of breath, severe heart rate even while going to the toilet, and severe headaches were reported. Health experts said the symptoms were found to persist for three-four months in children who had severe COVID-19.
Reports show that there are at least 1-2 per cent cases where they have found multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MISC). Health experts also pointed out that brain fog impacts the retention capacity of children, and some parents might confuse brain fogging with children trying to make excuses not to study; however, these are severe symptoms that need immediate medical attention .
The doctors added that more studies are required to know whether COVID-19 infections cause these symptoms in children.
Why Do Children React Differently To COVID-19?
Although more clarity is needed on this, experts believe that children might not be as severely affected by COVID-19 as adults because of the presence of other (less severe) coronaviruses that cause diseases such as the common cold . As kids are often prone to getting a cold, their immune systems might be primed to provide them with some protection against COVID-19.
The other reason cited by experts is that there could be a possibility of children's immune systems interacting with the virus differently than adults' immune systems. However, babies under age one might be at higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19 than older children due to their immature immune systems and smaller airways, making them more likely to develop breathing issues with respiratory virus infections .
New-borns, too, can become infected with respiratory illness during childbirth or by exposure to sick caregivers after delivery. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now available to people aged 12 and older but is not yet available in India.
Previous Findings On COVID-19 And Children
There were varied findings on the extent to which COVID-19 affects children, and some had pointed out that coronavirus infection in children may not start with a cough, as previously understood, but with diarrhoea .
- Studies pointed out that gastrointestinal symptoms reported by some children hint at a potential infection with SARS-CoV-2 through the digestive tract.
- Doctors warn that children can act as silent carriers or "super-spreaders" and spread it to other children and adults, who can suffer severe diseases .
- The new COVID-19 strains are highly infectious and present more symptoms than usual, and a reverse trend was observed during the second wave, where children develop symptoms before the adults and even pass the infection onto them .
- According to Harvard Health, many children will have no symptoms, and those who get sick will have mild symptoms such as low-grade fever, fatigue, and cold .
If a child is showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection, an RT PCR test should be done by the second day because early diagnosis helps in early treatment. If a child had a fever for two days but recovered later, they should be home quarantined for 14 days unless tested for the illness and the report is negative on the fifth day .
COVID-19 Vaccines For Children In India
- DCGI has started trials on children of different age groups for Covaxin. The trial results of II/ III were successful and may be used in immunising children in India if the third wave hit the country.
- Zycov-D (Zydus Cadila), an Ahemdabad based pharmaceutical company, have applied for a license for the COVID-19 vaccine for children and are expected to get the license for vaccine trial by July end. It is the second choice of government for children vaccination In India.
- Pfizer, while it has shown positive results in children in other countries, is still under trial in India.
- Sputnik V is set to start their trials on children according to their age and weight.
- Moderna has been the most effective COVID-19 vaccination for children till now (in other countries). It is in the talks to bring this vaccination to India for children.
On A Final Note...
The government of India has not come up with any eligibility criteria for children of different age groups for getting a vaccination. The age to get a jab is from 18 years and above. Covaxin is in its third trial, and Zydus is near its trial completion.