Research has found that children are protected from severe COVID-19 due to the fact their innate immune system is quick in attacking the virus.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21414-x The research found that specialized cells in a child’s immune system quickly target the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Children are not as likely to become infected with the virus and up to a third are asymptomatic, which is noticeably different to the higher prevalence and severity observed in children for the majority of other respiratory viruses.
The research involved an analysis of blood samples from 48 children and 70 adults infected with, or exposed to, SARS-CoV-2. Immune responses were monitored during the acute stage of infection and up to a couple of months afterwards.
Two mothers took part in the study together with their two daughters after all tested positive for COVID-19. Both of the daughters, aged 6 and 2, only had a mild runny nose but the mothers had severe fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, and loss of appetite and sense of taste. It took both of the mothers at least a fortnight to fully recover. The research indicates that children with COVID-19 have a much more robust innate immune response to the virus in comparison to adults.
Coronavirus infection in children was characterized by activation of neutrophils, the specialized white blood cell that help in healing damaged tissues and resolves infections, and a reduction in first-responder immune cells like monocytes, dendritic cells and natural killer cells from the blood. This suggests these infection-fighting immune cells are migrating to infection sites, quickly clearing the virus before it has an opportunity to really take hold.
This demonstrates that the innate immune system, our 1st line of defense against germs, is vital in preventing severe COVID-19 in children. Importantly, this immune reaction was not replicated among adults in the study.
The children and adults who were exposed to, but tested negative for the coronavirus also had altered immune responses. Both kids and adults had increased neutrophil numbers, out to 7 weeks following exposure to the virus, which could have provided a level of protection from disease.
The research confirms previous research that found 3 children developed a similar immune response after prolonged exposure to the coronavirus from their parents.
The research explained even though the children had been infected with the coronavirus, they were able to mount an immune response which was extremely effective in stopping the virus from replicating; which meant they never returned a positive test.
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