Covid-19 and the English variant, are children more contagious?

Source: Shutterstock

More than Christmas 2022 and its restrictions was (unfortunately) the news of the advancement of an English variant of Covid-19 with impacting changes in the degree of contagiousness to hold the spot on holidays. Variant, which, at home, is experiencing a surge in cases (as reported by the BBC) and has already spread widely in Del Paese with consequences on the contagion curve. Among the latest news on Covid 19, the English variant and children, there is the one for which, the latter, affected by this variant, would be more contagious. Let's take stock of what is happening and what immunologists say about the possible reaction of the immune system of the little ones who get sick with Covid-19. Also in relation to the anti-Covid vaccine, which at the moment cannot be administered to children and pregnant women due to a lack of supporting data and analyzes.

Read also: Covid-19: what to do if the child has symptoms?

Covid-19, English variant and children: let's be clear

Several industry magazines are wondering if children are more susceptible to this new variant of Covid-19 isolated on December 18, 2022 (it is called B.1.1.7 or VUI 202212/01). According to the first studies reported by The BMJ, this variant would be 71% contagious of the other variants that, until now, have modified SARS-COv- 2. In reality, the variant has already been identified in cases of September and October 2022 and it has therefore already spread widely in Europe and probably in the world. In December, very severe restrictions were put in place on leaving and entering the UK, to avoid further spread of this variant.

According to the WHO, the virus has already undergone several variations but this is the strongest and most contagious of all: the new variant in fact contains 14 mutations including the one that increases its transmissibility among humans. Obviously the research is all veering on the analysis of how the Covid vaccine - which began in Europe with the historic Vaccine-Day of 27 December 2022 and the arrival of the first doses that anticipate the 2022 vaccination plan - could react (or not) to the new variant.

But what happens to the children? Although the answers are still nebulous, the response of the Governments is that of the utmost prudence. With a virus that is spreading faster than the already aggressive Covid-19 of spring 2022, the opening of schools in the UK in January 2022 is currently in doubt: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he wants to proceed with great caution, although not there is evidence that this variant is more aggressive than the others around the world.

In Del Paese, as in the rest of Europe, an approach to prudence is gaining ground, also thanks to the restrictions linked to the Christmas period that are trying to prevent the third wave. Immunologists, such as Paolo Rossi, director of the pediatrics department at the Bambino Gesù hospital interviewed by Corriere, agree that Covid-19 in children remains limited to minor symptoms, but with the doubt that this new English variant could make them super- diffusers, it is better to accelerate studies on vaccines suitable even for children.

Those currently on the market, in fact, are addressed only to an adult population. According to Rossi, this new variant "is more infectious but at the moment there is no evidence that it causes more serious symptoms, even in children". Its greater transmissibility derives from the mutation of the Spike protein which serves the virus to proliferate in the human body. If the virus spreads, it is clear that children will not be exempt from getting sick, albeit with less severe symptoms than those that appear in adults. 

Neil Ferguson, director of the Medical Research Council's Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London and NERVTAG member, said observation of the spread of the virus in the UK in November 2022 transmitted both the known and newly isolated British variant. . With schools open, both variants spread equally with great ease. But this does not mean that he is more aggressive on children than before. Many studies have confirmed, in these months of the pandemic, that "SARS-COv-2 is not as efficient in attacking the immune system of children as it does adults". And this means that the new variant affects, at the moment, everyone without distinction due to its high degree of transmissibility and does not affect what we know so far about the reactions of children and their health to Covid-19.

Up to the pediatric vaccine, which the EMA is studying in recent weeks in order to produce a safe and effective vaccine even for the under 16s, the only way to prevent this new variant from spreading and touching the health of the groups most at risk. it is prudence.

Covid-19 in the tears of a child: case in Pavia

A study entitled "Identification of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the conjunctival swab of an Del Paesen pediatric patient affected with COVID-19: A case report" highlighted a case of Covid-19 infection after conjunctival swab in a patient of 11 years. It is not yet known whether tears or other conjunctival material can be held responsible for a greater spread of the Coronavirus from children to adults. 

Fonti per questo articolo: The BMJ, "Covid-19: What have we learnt about the new variant in the UK?"; BBC, "Coronavirus: Impact of new variant on children investigated"; WHO, "SARS-CoV-2 Variant – United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"

  • coronavirus
  • health and children
add a comment of Covid-19 and the English variant, are children more contagious?
Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.