BHUBANESWAR: Despite being susceptible to coronavirus infection, children and adolescents had a much lower chance of getting severe Covid, according to a Statewide analysis of samples conducted by the ICMR-Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC), Bhubaneswar.
For the study, the researchers examined a total of 5,53,763 RT-PCR test data. Among the samples examined, 75,190 (13.6%) were positive, with 69,202 (92%) cases belonging to people aged 18 and above and 5,988 (8%) cases belonging to those aged 0-17 years.
The positivity rate among those aged over 18 years (13.8 per cent) was relatively higher than those aged 0-17 years (11.6 per cent) and comparable with the overall positivity. Among children, the positivity rate was highest (12.96 per cent) in the 6-9 year age group and lowest (9.07 per cent) among the 0-5 year age group.
“Though the virus affected children of all ages, they rarely developed any severe or critical illness. We found the positivity rate among children was less than adults during the last two waves,” said an ICMR scientist.
The case fatality rates in Odisha in the 0-17 year age group were 0.05 per cent and 0.03 per cent in the first and second waves respectively and the CFR was much lower during the second wave than the overall rate of 0.75 per cent.
Only four, 11 and eight children succumbed to Covid-19 in the age groups of 0-6, 7-14 and 15-18 years, respectively this year, whereas the number of deaths was three, six and four in the same age groups in 2020.
Based on sero-surveillance reports conducted by the ICMR in June this year, Covid-19 infection in children over 10 years of age occurs in a similar frequency to that of adults. Sero-prevalence in the 10-17 year age group and above 18 year increased from 27.8 per cent to 61.8 per cent and from 25.8 per cent to 69.69 per cent respectively in the third (December 2020-January 2021) and fourth (June-July 2021) sero-survey.
“Fear of mutations causing more severe cases in children has no solid scientific evidence to date. Even without vaccination, due to the high prevalence of seropositivity, children might incur natural immunity in preventing future infection or complications of Covid,” the scientist added.