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Long COVID symptoms from Delta variant less likely to affect children and adolescents – study

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Children and adolescents are unlikely to develop further long COVID-19 symptoms after 12 weeks, according to a new study.

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Australia carried out research on the Delta variant of the deadly virus after 10 months of the strain being in circulation.

The results showed the variant did not cause more serious symptoms in healthy younger people and children, with most cases being recorded as asymptomatic or mild.

However, the research also found children and adolescents were at greater risk of more severe symptoms if they had health conditions such as obesity, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and immune disorders.

Kevin Mckeon, 14, receives his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine from vaccinator Geraldine Flynn at the Citywest vaccination centre in Dublin. Vaccinations of children and teenagers is underway across Ireland, with more than 23 percent of those aged 12 to 15 registered to receive the jab. Picture date: Saturday August 14, 2021.
Image: A recent review said severe COVID-19 was likely in 5.1% of children and adolescents who had pre-existing conditions

MCRI Professor Nigel Curtis said children with Sars-CoV-2 infection were usually asymptomatic or had mild disease.

But he added it was still too early to determine the long-term effects of long COVID-19 in people.

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He said: “Current studies lack a clear case definition and age-related data, have variable follow-up times, and rely on self- or parent-reported symptoms without lab confirmation.

“Another significant problem is that many studies have low response rates meaning they might overestimate the risk of long COVID-19.”

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It comes after a recent systematic review said severe COVID-19 was likely in 5.1% of children and adolescents who had pre-existing conditions, rather than the 0.2% of those without the conditions.

Dr Petra Zimmermann, of the MCRI and University of Fribourg, added it was hard to accurately work out the risks of COVID-19 among children and adolescents due to the pandemic causing social distancing through school closures, not seeing friends and being unable to do sports or hobbies.

The review was published in the Paediatric Infectious Disease Journal and looked at 14 international studies that involved 19,426 children and adolescents with persistent symptoms.

The most common symptoms reported up to 12 weeks after the infection was recorded in the young people were headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbances, concentration difficulties and abdominal pain.