The reason behind children getting mild COVID-19 infections is unraveled

On the way through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have faced a lot of people of different age groups affected by the virus. Many deaths across the globe seem to threaten, and still, we are in need of a vaccine. Surprisingly, the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on children differs from those of the adults.

Children usually get milder forms of disease because of the innate immune response exhibited by them. A study conducted at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Montefiore (CHAM) and Yale University explained the significant differences in the immunity of young and adults.

The study

Around 60 adult COVID-19 patients and 65 pediatric COVID-19 patients were on a study from March 13 to May 17, 2020. Among the pediatric group, 20 of them had complications of the multi-systemic inflammatory syndrome (MIS). And importantly, twenty-two adults(37%) and five pediatric patients (8%) needed mechanical ventilation. 17 adults (28%) and only two children (3%) died of the disease, although no death from MIS. All the people in the study are regularly monitored for the presence of immune cells, antibody response, and also cytokines.

Read Also: COVID-19 is causing a problem in pregnancy, CDC reports

The findings of the study demonstrate the possible action of innate immunity in children, which makes them do better than adults. Innate immunity is one which does help in the first-line defense against invading pathogens. They rely on the body’s ability to recognize conserved features of pathogens that are not present in the uninfected host. Also, they are required to initiate a specific adaptive immune response that encounters the virus.

The study depicted that pediatric patients had more levels of cytokines than adults, especially IL-17A, that are mostly associated with innate immunity. This specific cytokine in children prevents the severe hallmark of the infection called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which causes death in adults.

Interestingly, the scientist observed higher neutralizing antibodies in adults than in children. They both produce specific antibody to the spike protein of the virus, that helps in the entry of the virus. Since there is a high level of antibody in the adults, we can come to know that the severe form of the disease is not due to the lack of adaptive immunity. Instead, it is because of the over-stimulated adaptive immune response to the virus, which may lead to ARDS. The study was on the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The researchers after this study explained that the use of convalescent plasma might not be a potential treatment for patients with signs of ARDS. Therapies that boost innate immunity in the early stages are found beneficial. The vaccine, which may come in the later months, should also able to initiate the innate immunity in addition to its adaptive immune response.

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Source: Medical Xpress

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