Third wave of Covid-19 won't pose greater risk to children: Study

AIIMS collected data between March 15 and June 10, 2021, from 4,509 participants across four states, of which 700 were less than 18 years of age and 3,809 were above it
It’s highly unlikely that any future wave of Covid-19 by the prevailing variants of coronavirus will disproportionately affect children aged two years or older, a serosurvey conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, has found.

This comes against the backdrop of a number of officials and health experts raising an alarm about the possible third wave affecting children more than adults.

AIIMS collected data between March 15 and June 10, 2021, from 4,509 participants across four states, of which 700 were less than 18 years of age and 3,809 were above it.

The interim study found seroprevalence (the prevalence of Covid antibodies) in 55.7 per cent of those between 2 and 17 years of age, and in 63.5 per cent of those above 18. “There was no statistically significant difference in prevalence between adults and children,” the study said.

A large proportion of children had asymptomatic Covid-19 infection. The overall seroprevalence was found to be 65.9 per cent.

The second nationwide seroprevalence study, done in August-September 2020, had found 9 per cent of the 3,021 children aged 10-17 years seropositive. The latest study by AIIMS has found 60.3 per cent of those in 10-17 years were previously infected with Covid.

AIIMS scientists noted that since schools were closed during the pandemic, children were likely to have caught the infection from household adults. It is not clear, however, if children produce the same level of antibodies as adults when infected, the study said.

The AIIMS study is part of an ongoing large multi-centric population-based seroepidemiological study being conducted in five selected states with a proposed sample size of 10,000 individuals.

In Delhi, the survey found that irrespective of age groups, rural sites had lower seropositivity compared to urban areas. Within rural areas, children had slightly lower seropositivity compared to adults.

Seroprevalence in children was slightly more among female participants (59 per cent) compared to males (53 per cent). Children aged 2-4 years and 5-9 years had almost identical seropositivity rates of 42.4 per cent and 43.8 per cent, respectively. This was lower than the rate observed for children aged 10-17 years at 60.3 per cent.

“The higher seropositivity rate in children aged 10-17 years may be reflective of their higher mobility and independence compared to the younger children,” the study said.

The study also found that the seropositivity rate was higher at 74.7 per cent compared to the fifth serosurvey conducted in January 2021 in Delhi when 56 per cent of the population surveyed showed signs of previous infection.

Four rural sites were included in the survey, of which Gorakhpur was the worst affected with seroprevalence of almost 88 per cent while Faridabad was the least affected with about 59 per cent showing signs of past Covid infection.

The data was collected from Delhi urban resettlement colony, villages in Faridabad district under Delhi NCR, rural parts of Bhubaneswar, Gorakhpur, and Agartala.

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