According to the largest study of its kind, up to one in seven children in England suffer from Covid for a long time after recovering from the initial infection.
The University College London survey of nearly 7,000 young people aged 11 to 17 found that 14 percent of those who tested positive for the virus had three or more persistent symptoms three months later.
The lead scientist behind the study said the problem of long-term Covid in children “wasn’t anything like what the scale warned about in previous reports.
Only children with a confirmed PCR test result were included in the study, unlike other studies, and they were compared with a control group.
Of the participants who still felt unwell three months after beating the virus, 7 percent said they had five or more symptoms.
Common ailments included headaches and fatigue, but there was no evidence that any of the children had ‘serious’ illness due to long-term Covid.
It comes amid a row over whether Britain should routinely vaccinate high school students as classrooms go back and infections remain stubbornly high.
The topic has proved controversial, as giving injections to children is said to be almost exclusively to protect adults from Covid.
Children are at extremely low risk of the virus itself, but previous research suggested that as many as half were affected by long-term Covid, which some believe was another reason to vaccinate them.
The study surveyed more than 3,000 children who tested PCR positive between January and March. They were compared with a similarly sized group that tested negative over the same period. When surveyed about 15 weeks after their test, 14 percent more youths in the positive group had three or more symptoms. One in 14, or 7 percent more, in the positive group had five or more symptoms
Lead author Professor Sir Terence Stephenson, a pediatrician at UCL, told a news conference today that he was “reassured” by the findings. dr. Liz Whittaker said Covid didn’t seem to be a ‘serious disease’ in young people for a long time
Lead author Professor Sir Terence Stephenson, a pediatrician at UCL, said he felt “reassured” by the findings.
He told a press conference today: ‘The study takes us a long way forward’ [in understanding long Covid in children].
“It’s not like the worst forecasts during the peak of the pandemic in December and January.”
He said that while he didn’t want to downplay the effect of the condition on patients, the prevalence in children “was generally better than people had guessed.”
Sir Terence said the findings would be shared with the government’s Covid vaccine advisory body, which is lobbied to roll out the shots in 12- to 15-year-olds.
High school students must wear face masks when they go back to school, union leader says
High school students will still be required to wear face masks this week when they return to class this week, an education union leader said.
dr. Mary Bousted, general secretary of the National Education Union, told ministers they needed to take urgent action to avoid disrupting the new academic year.
She said: ‘It would be much better if schools hadn’t been told to drop the measures they took last school year.
“At a time when the infection level is 26 times higher than last year at this time, it makes no sense to go back to school with so few safety measures.”
Yesterday, Dr Bousted predicted that schools would be forced to adopt masks and other Covid measures ‘very soon’.
Millions of young people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be back in class between now and the end of next week, raising fears of an inevitable spike in cases.
Pupils in England only have to test themselves for the virus twice a week, and all other measures, including face masks and social distancing, are being abolished.
But in Scotland, where schools returned in mid-August, students and staff are still required to wear masks and keep a meter and a half away. Despite these measures, the country has seen a record rise in Covid cases.
The vaccines are already approved for people aged 16 and 17, but are not routinely offered to people under that age unless they are frail themselves or live with someone who is.
Pressure is mounting on the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI) to follow the likes of the US, Canada and France in giving children injections, especially after cases skyrocketed in Scotland as schools went back two weeks ago.
dr. Liz Whittaker, who was involved in the latest long-term Covid study, said Covid did not appear to be a “serious disease” in young people for a long time, adding: “Vaccines prevent serious disease.”
She also added that while the shots offer high protection against severe Covid, they are less effective in preventing transmission.
‘So it’s hard to know if [long Covid] can be prevented by vaccinating or not vaccinating children.’
The study surveyed more than 3,000 children who tested PCR positive between January and March.
They were compared with a similarly sized group that tested negative over the same period.
When surveyed about 15 weeks after their test, 14 percent more youths in the positive group had three or more symptoms.
One in 14, or 7 percent more, in the positive group had five or more symptoms, the study found.
Researchers said their data suggests that between 4,000 and 32,000 young people in England had Covid for a long time during the second wave of the pandemic.
There was little difference in mental health and well-being scores between children who had long-term Covid compared to children who did not.
Sir Terence, Nuffield Professor of Child Health at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, said: ‘There is consistent evidence that some teens will have persistent symptoms after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.
‘Our study supports this evidence, with headache and unusual fatigue as the most common complaints.
“The difference between the positive and negative groups is greater when looking at multiple symptoms, with those who tested positive were twice as likely to report three or more symptoms 15 weeks later.”
The study of children and young people with Lung Covid (CLoCk) continues, with analysis of the results at six months, one year and two years from the time of the person’s PCR test.
Sir Terence said while he is reassured by these early findings, he remains “very concerned” that there may be young people who are “seriously affected”.
He added: ‘That’s something we’ll come back to when we study young people as young as six months old.
“But there will be some young people who will be completely bedridden or have very shortness of breath or daily headaches, and I wouldn’t want to reduce that, but we’re reporting sort of a total number.”
“I think it’s generally better than people thought in December.”
The study also includes researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Liverpool, Leicester, Manchester, as well as King’s College London, Imperial College London, Public Health England, Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College London Hospitals (UCLH).
dr. Liz Whittaker, senior lecturer in pediatric infectious diseases and immunology at Imperial College London, said the JCVI’s decision to extend the vaccine rollout will likely be based on the risk of serious illness from the virus compared to the risks of the virus. vaccine, rather than the data in this study pertaining to long-term Covid.
What are the long-term symptoms of Covid?
Most coronavirus patients recover within 14 days, develop a fever, cough and lose their sense of smell or taste for several days.
However, evidence is beginning to emerge that tell-tale symptoms of the virus can persist for weeks in “long transporters” — the term for patients plagued with lasting complications.
Long-term symptoms include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Increased heart rate
- to succeed
- Loss of taste/odor
- kidney disease
- Mobility issues
- muscle strain