Symptoms and Treatment

Autism ups risk of severe COVID-19

Young children are twice as likely to become severely infected with COVID-19 compared to children aged five years old, which is “an increase of more than 10-fold for younger children, and higher than 10-fold for females aged between ages five and 10 years”, according to new research.
Co-author Professor Martin Gros, who heads the NIPH Epidemiologist Unit “The rate of severe complications was not examined in the study” says he is confident that the data indicate young children are less likely to succumb at this time and are indeed less likely to need immediate hospitalisation for COVID-19 than older children.
In fact, the researchers point out that in the absence of adverse medical conditions, “[e]very child treated for COVID-19 is likely to recover into normal and normally strong functional status one or two years later, which is sufficiently long for them to return to independent behaviour”.
In an editorial accompanying the paper, Augustin Castro of NIPH explains that “it is extremely important to stress that severe, severe hospitalisations are still very common with growing, and therefore the overall number of hospitalisations needed to detect children with COVID-19 who are not tested is likely to far exceed the numbers who could benefit from intensive care medicine due to their having severe disease symptoms.”The findings show that COVID-19 patients have the same risks for younger children, but that severe hospitalisations among children older than five years were more common in boys.
A related commentary in The BMJ suggests that “families and/or care services should be mobilized to enable younger children from deprived neighbourhoods to avoid severe illness during (school) recess.”Lead author Dr Austin McCarthy (NIPH) says “we need to reinforce the need to scale up the provision of COVID-19 testing for children which has been severely hampered at this time by limited capacity in some regions, limited capacity for testing in others, and low capacity for sending or receiving tests.
Early deployment of rapid COVID-19 test (or testing to address symptom) should help reduce subsequent hospitalisation and hospitalisation with COVID-19”.