New Belgian research: "Children are more susceptible to coronavirus than first thought"

Research by Leuven university (KU Leuven) and the Belgian health institute Sciensano has revealed that young children can catch coronavirus just like adults, but they hardly suffer from it. "Children are indeed susceptible to coronavirus, even more than initially thought", professor Corinne Vandermeulen told the VRT.  

Researchers tested 362 children in 10 schools in the Limburg municipalities of Alken and Pelt. Alken had bad corona figures during the first wave in spring, while Pelt was at the other end of the spectre with a relatively low number. The children  - all of them were in primary education and the first 3 years of secondary education - were tested after the summer when blood and saliva samples were taken to check whether they had developed antibodies. 

It turns out that 14.4 percent of the children from Alken had developed antibodies - in other words, they had caught the virus - compared to just 4.4 percent in Pelt. "The results show that children are more susceptible to the virus than we first thought", explains Corinne Vandermeulen (KU Leuven) who headed the research.  "We didn't have a lot of research on children, this gives us new insights."  

Roughly said, children's populations are following the main trend in society for new infections, but professor Vandermeulen says that more large-scale research is needed to really confirm this. 

Children didn't get ill

Researchers also found out that the children that got the virus, hardly got ill, which confirms what had been assumed. "34 of the 362 children developed antibodies but none of them got ill, they showed weak or no symptoms and had few complaints." 

The study did not investigate whether the virus was passed on from children to children (and if so, to which extent) and whether pupils between 6 and 15 (and their school environment) are fuelling the epidemic (just like older students and adults do) or not. 

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