Study suggests that Children may have a weaker immune response to Covid

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Aug 10, 2021, 08:25 PM IST

Children Photograph:(AFP)

Story highlights

When tested three weeks after onset of disease, one-third of the patients lacked antibodies. Meanwhile, antibodies in those who developed the disease over four months ago had waned

According to a recent study from Shaare Zedek Medical Center, neutralising antibodies begin to fade among kids who catch the virus after only four months.

Researchers at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, led by Prof. Yechiel Schlesinger, recently conducted the first-ever study into the prevalence of coronavirus antibodies in children attending the hospital's pediatric ward in collaboration with the Health Ministry.

Approximately 1,138 children under the age of 18, with a mean age of 4.4, were surveyed between October 18, 2020, and January 12, 2021, for the study that appeared in Acta Paediatrica. It was found that nearly one-third (or 29 per cent) of the children with coronavirus positive results were lacking neutralizing antibodies during that time.

Schlesinger explained that one-third of the patients didn't have antibodies when they were tested three weeks after onset of the disease. Meanwhile, the antibodies of the other two-thirds who had developed the disease more than four months ago had waned.

The study found that children reach their peak antibody level three months after diagnosis. The number of antibodies decreased significantly - much more than in adults. It may be indicative of a weaker long-term immune reaction among children.

Schlesinger asserts that the disappearance of antibodies does not suggest these children are not protected. However, the disappearance does make one wonder whether those kids are truly protected.

As antibody levels decline, the likelihood of infection is higher. Separate studies have demonstrated this correlation.

Additionally, the study could have implications for understanding herd immunity, the possibility of a resurgence of an infection wave, and the development of childhood vaccines, he said.

It is also noteworthy that 10 per cent of children were found to have been infected, even though 41 per cent of those children did not know they were infected.

As a result of subsequent studies conducted in June and July 2021, which have yet to be published and are being written up, Schlesinger said that the percentage of children in Jerusalem with the virus has increased from 10 to 30 per cent.

Lastly, the researchers found no correlation between school openings and infection rates among children, as students who continued to attend schools for various reasons during the closed periods did not develop additional antibodies than students who stayed home.

Additionally, when the country reopened schools slowly, morbidity did not decrease.