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expert reaction to children and young people’s risk from COVID-19

There have been questions from journalists on the risk children and young people face from COVID-19.


Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“Emerging data from China suggest that children and young people are the least affected group in the population from this infection. It appears that children/young people (CYP) probably catch the infection as much as adults, however they appear to much more frequently have no symptoms (asymptomatic) or very mild symptoms.

“The best data probably come from a very recent paper from China, Dong et al 2020 in the journal Pediatrics,

“We know of very few deaths in CYP. There was a reported death in China of a teenager and we understand that a very small number of premature babies may also have died.  We know little more about these cases but we understand the deaths of premature babies were probably related to “prematurity.

We’ve been told that there have been a very small number of deaths of CYP in Italy (3-4 deaths). We have been told that all of these were in children with pre-existing medical conditions.

“The full circumstances of the death of the 18 year old are unknown but the hospital where he was treated has said that there were “significant underlying health issues”.

“It is critical to remember that around 5000 CYP under 19 years die in the UK every year – and that this will sadly continue regardless of COVID-19.  Some who die who test positive for COVID-19 may die ‘with’ the virus rather than ‘from’ it.  COVID-19 may of course hasten their death or contribute to it.

“The CYP groups of patients who are at increased risk have been identified by the College and in PHE guidance.

“One of our increasing concerns is that children with fevers or illness for other reasons – such as meningitis – may not get the help they need because of fears of attending hospitals with COVID-19 – or because the health system is focused so strongly on COVID-19.  We know that serious infections including sepsis will continue during this emergency – and we must ensure that the whole system continues to provide the best care for sick children.”


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:


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