Two thirds of children have had coronavirus infection, scientists estimate
About two-thirds of kids in the Netherlands aged 12 and under have had the coronavirus in the past 20 months, researchers from UMC Utrecht estimate. They also concluded that children usually don't get more serious complaints from the coronavirus than from a random cold, NOS reports.
The researchers followed over 300 families, in which at least one member had the coronavirus or a cold, between September 2020 and June 2021. A total of 1,209 people, including 582 children, kept diaries to record their symptoms of respiratory infections. They also underwent PCR tests to determine whether they had the coronavirus or a cold.
They found that 20 to 40 percent of children in the study had the coronavirus on an annual basis. Using an extrapolation and the emergence of the more contagious Delta variant, the researchers estimate that up to two-thirds of children aged 12 and under may have had the virus - significantly more than previously assumed.
According to the researchers, the higher number of infections among kids was missed in the early Covid-19 waves partly because kids weren't tested as often. Young children only had to get tested for Covid-19 if they had more severe symptoms, like a fever. Another factor is that a Covid-19 infection usually gives children symptoms that hardly differ from a common cold, so neither they nor their parents saw reason to test them.
"We have known for some time that children become ill from the coronavirus less often than adults," pediatrician and epidemiologist Patricia Bruijning, who led the study, said to NOS. "But the beauty of this study is that we can now really show the course of the virus infection based on very detailed data on disease symptoms."
"Thanks to the diaries they all kept, we were able to compare the symptoms of corona and other respiratory infections. With children, you see that there are no differences at all in terms of severity and type of complaints between the corona and a cold. With adults, this is emphatically not the case, this research also shows," Bruijning said.