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Preventing Infections in Schools
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We know that school age children are less likely to develop severe COVID-19 illnesses. In a recent study the CDC COVID-19 Response Team reported that only 1.6 to 2.5% of children below the age of 20 who acquired COVID-19 required hospitalization. And ICU admissions and deaths were not observed in 123 patients. But deaths can rarely occur, and severe disease in children can manifest 2 to 4 weeks later in the form of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). MIS-C can cause shock, cardiac, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. MIS-C occurs in less than 1% of children diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As of the end of July, over 300 cases have been reported in the United States. In one study, 80% of children with MIS-C required ICU admission, 80% had cardiovascular involvement and 20% required mechanical ventilation, 2% died. Finally, infants less than 12 months of age appear to be at high risk for severe COVID-19, possibly due to their underdeveloped immune system.
However, two possibilities exist, that children are not as likely to get infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus or that they contract the infection, but the vast majority of children are asymptomatic.
Studies are indicating that both may be a factor. Davies et al., in Nature Medicine, reported that almost 80% of the children who acquire the SAR-CoV-2 virus are asymptomatic as compared to only 31% of the elderly. They also estimated that children were half as susceptible to infection as adults.