COVID-19 3rd Wave Won't Hit Children Harder, Finds AIIMS-WHO Study

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Hindi Female

The third wave is unlikely to disproportionately impact children, finds the interim result of an ongoing study jointly conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The findings come as a relief amidst worries and speculations that kids may be hit harder in the impending 3rd wave of COVID in the country, seeing as how young adults were the worst hit in the second wave, and more children were seen to have symptomatic illness.


Key Points About the Study

The large study is being conducted in five states in India with samples from both rural and urban areas, and includes 10,000 children between the ages of 2 and 17.

This midterm analysis results, however, are based on the data of 4500 participants from four states.

These participants were comprised of 700 children under the age of 18 and 3,809 participants over the age of 18.

This data was collected between 15 March and 10 June.

Blood samples of these participants were tested for total serum antibody or seroprevalence with the help of standard ELISA kit.

What the Study Found

The interim analysis found a seroprevalence of 55.7 percent in those under the age of 18, comparable to the 63.5 percent in adults.

“SARS-CoV-2 sero-positivity rate among children was high and were comparable to the adult population. Hence, it is unlikely that any future third wave by prevailing COVID-19 variant would disproportionately affect children two years or older.”
Study by AIIMS and WHO

The sites of testing included, Delhi (urban), Delhi (Rural–villages of Ballabgarh block in Faridabad district of Haryana), Bhubaneswar (rural), Gorakhpur (rural) in Uttar Pradesh, and Agartala (rural) in Tripura.

  • Seroprevalence lower in rural areas

The seropositivity in participants from rural sites was found to be lower than that of those from urban sites, irrespective of age groups.

The 1001 participants from urban sites had a total seropositive of 748, while the 3508 participants from the rural sites had a seropositivity of 2063.

  • Seroprevalence higher in female participants

58.6 percent of the 338 females (between the ages of 2 to 17) were found to be seropositive, compared to the 53.0 percent of the 362 boys in the same age group.

However, the study also says, "there was no statistically significant difference (p-value 0.140) in seropositivity between male and female."
  • Younger children had slightly lower seroprevalence

Among the 700 children aged 2-17 years, the 33 participants between the ages of 2-4 years and the 153 participants between the ages of 5-9 years had almost identical seropositivity rate (42.4% and 43.8%).

But these were, however, lower than the rate observed for the 512 children aged 10-17 years (60.3%).

Why the Study Is Important

The study authors point to the lack of evidence when it comes to the rate of infection in children as compared to adults.

"We, therefore, undertook a community-based sero-survey for COVID-19 among a population older than two years. The objective of the study was to compare the COVID-19 seropositivity rate between children and adults."
The join AIIMS-WHO study authors

This study's findings, checks out with what many experts have been saying as well.

Speaking to FIT during a livestream, Dr Rakesh Mishra, former director of CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad said “We haven't seen anything in the virus that indicates it prefers certain age-groups.

Speaking in the same live stream, Dr Giridhar Babu, epidemiologist and professor at Public Health Foundation of India, added,

“The virus will seek those who are uninfected. So any age-group that is uninfected or unvaccinated, the virus will find them when it transmits. These people, who we call susceptible, are at a risk of catching the virus in the future waves.”
Dr Giridhar Babu

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Topics:  AIIMS   COVID-19   third wave 

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