August 10, 2022

Coronavirus: Is the second COVID wave more dangerous for kids? Signs and symptoms to know – Times of India


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While COVID-19 can strike people of all ages, it is largely believed that kids, unlike adults are at a low-risk threshold of suffering from complications. There have been fewer cases of COVID-19 striking kids or causing deaths. However, the newer variants could change what we know about the same.
As epidemiologists are now trying to warn, the newer COVID variants, much feared for their easy infectivity and spread could also infect kids much more easily, raising added concerns as schools and institutions open up in parts of India and the world and no vaccine approved for use on kids.

According to multiple findings and studies, the newer variants of the virus, known to be stronger and deadlier can easily surpass immune defences and antibodies. While earlier, it was only suspected that adults were vulnerable to the same, newer cases being increasingly detected in schools and educational institutions present staggering evidence. Some epidemiologists do believe that the newer strains could also impair kids’ immune system and could strike them more easily.

In India, which is battling the second wave of infections, the scariest outbreak amongst the younger age groups was reported from a Bangalore-based school, where a whopping 400 kids tested COVID positive.

Clusters have also been reported in districts where schools for children have been thrown open in recent months, which have further sparked fears.
The newer COVID variants, be it the double mutant variant just discovered in India, or the UK, Brazilian variants carry changes in the genetic make-up, which ‘allow’ the virus to attach itself to the entry receptors and attack vital cell linings. This also makes it easier for more symptomatic infections to occur and infectivity rates to fuel.
While there’s not a lot of research that has been carried out on kids who did get infected by newer COVID strains, experts do believe that the newer strains are highly infectious, can present more symptoms than usual and for many, can also raise severity and hospitalization risk.
According to some, there’s also a reverse trend of sorts happening with the second wave.
Again, while kids have always been questioned to be superspreaders, doctors also report that with the second wave and emergence of groups and family clusters, kids could develop symptoms before adults, and even pass the infection onto them. The same could be said for older kids (teenagers and young adults), who are now being suspected to be major carriers of the infection.
Although research is still ongoing, several doctors from across the world have also cited concerns pertaining to the added risk of symptomatic infections in kids.
While kids are said to suffer from fewer implications of the virus, or get asymptomatic cases, kids testing positive right now are showcasing a lot more symptoms than before. This is being increasingly seen in kids aged between 2-16.
Doctors have also flagged concerns about the hospitalization cases being seen right now. Cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), which is a rare autoimmune condition that can impact kids suffering from COVID and cause mortality are also on the rise.
Findings from the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics (JTP) have suggested that nearly 1 in 3 children who develop severe COVID-19 also require acute hospitalization and intensive care and run the risk of developing complications- some of which can be fatal as well. Hence, it should not be taken lightly at any cost.
There are a lot of factors responsible for the rise in COVID-19 cases right now, for adults as well as kids.
Apart from lax measures, many experts also believe that the reopening of schools and educational institutions right now have majorly spiked up cases.
Children, who have been majorly locked up for the majority of the past year are also now stepping out. Increasing exposure to play areas, groups, travelling and poor hygiene and mask measures may also make them more prone to catching the infection right now.
A report in Harvard Health mentions that kids can suffer from many repercussions due to the virus- some may get no symptoms (be asymptomatic) or develop fewer symptoms. Those with chronic immunity problems may also suffer from complications of MIS-C.

The classic signs of coronavirus remain to be a fever, headache, cough and cold.

However, as cases now emerge, it is being advised that any unusual development or symptom should not be ruled out and demands to test. Kids can sometimes also showcase signs different to those of adults. These signs, however, right now demand attention and diagnosis at once:

-Persistent fever
-Skin rashes, COVID toes
-Bloodshot eyes
-Bad body pain, joint aches
-Nausea, abdominal cramps and gastrointestinal complaints
-Red, cracked lips or bluish tint on face and lips
-Sleepiness, fatigue and lethargy

COVID-19 can also affect babies and infants. While it can be troubling to detect signs in little ones, broadly, here are some of the signs to check:

-Mottled skin
-High temperature
-Fussiness, loss of appetite
-Muscle pain
-Swollen lips and skin
-Lesions and blister outbreaks
Vaccines, for kids right now are a long shot. It can take upto at least a year’s time to have a vaccine ready for them.
While there are no approved vaccines available for kids upto 16, a number of critical clinical trials are being conducted on kids to test how safe the vaccine would be on them.
While Moderna Inc. is currently trying out doses on pediatric participants aged between 2-12, Pfizer’s mRNA shot, which is also under study has been shown to be 100% effective and highly tolerated in kids aged between 12-15. More studies are also being planned on younger infants.
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