NEW DELHI: Amid concerns that a future COVID-19 wave may disproportionately hit children, a multi centric community based serosurvey led by AIIMS, New Delhi, has shown that infection rates among children and adults in five cities in different parts of the country, in both rural and urban areas, were similar.
Citing the findings, the researchers associated with AIIMS in Bhubaneshwar and Gorakhpur, apart from Delhi, JIPMER, Puducherry, Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad and Agartala government medical college and WHO have ruled out the possibility that COVID-19 surges ahead are likely to hit children harder than before.
For the study, blood samples were collected from 4,509 individuals, 700 aged 2-17 years and 3,809 aged 18 and above between March 15-June 10 to check for the antibodies against SARS coV 2, confirming a history of exposure to the virus.
Of the participants tested from Delhi, Faridabad, Bhubaneshwar, Agartala and Gorakhpur, 55.7% kids and adolescents had antibodies against the COVID-19 virus while in adults, the seroprevalence was found to be 63.5%.
“Hence, it is unlikely that any future third wave by a prevailing COVID-19 variant would disproportionately affect children two years or older,” their report has said.
A senior faculty at AIIMS Delhi associated with the project said that the results confirm that “the narrative being propagated that kids may be more susceptible during the future waves of the pandemic may be unfounded and without any scientific basis”.
A further analysis of the data generated in the study showed that irrespective of the age groups, rural sites had lower sero-positivity compared to the urban site.
Within the rural sites, children had slightly lower sero-positivity compared to adults. However, this differential prevalence was not observed in the urban sites.
It was also seen that the prevalence in children was slightly more among female participants compared to male (58.6% versus 53.0%) but there was no statistically significant difference in sero-positivity between male and female.
The researchers found that children aged 2-4 years and 5-9 years had almost identical sero-positivity rate (42.4% and 43.8%) which was lower than the rate observed for children aged 10-17 years (60.3%)
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 noted adding that as reported in the literature, a large proportion of children (50.9%) had an asymptomatic COVID-19 infection.
SARS CoV2 seropositivity rate among children was high and comparable to the adult population, said the study stressing that it is unlikely that any future third wave by a prevailing COVID-19 variant would disproportionately affect children two years or older.
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