UMMC Study: More children may have had COVID-19 than case numbers suggest

UMMC Study: More children may have had COVID-19 than case numbers suggest

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A year into the fight against COVID-19 and we’re still learning more about how it’s impacting different parts of the population. The latest insight is about kids and the virus.

Who’s at risk? It’s a question that’s popped up frequently in the last year surrounding COVID-19.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a question as to whether or not kids were actually getting infected because so many pediatricians were reporting that they just weren’t seeing sick children coming in with this particular disease,” said Dr. Charlotte Hobbs, UMMC Professor of Pediatrics and Infectious Disease Specialist. “So, the question now is not do they get infected. We actually know they get infected and to a much higher degree than we previously anticipated.”

There is some new data to back up Dr. Hobbs statement.

She’s the lead author on a study done with UMMC, the state Department of Health and the CDC. UMMC examined the blood serum samples of patients under 18 from mid-May to mid-September. Keep in mind, these weren’t COVID patients. But they found many kids had the antibodies.

“This suggests that there are many many more children, in fact more than ten-fold that have been infected with SARS CoV-2, than the Mississippi State Department of Health case incidents suggest,” described Hobbs.

Why is that?

Hobbs says it’s more likely that those children had mild or no symptoms and absent a test, there’d be no record of them having the virus. That doesn’t surprise mom Misty Perkins who feared people weren’t taking the possibility of children getting infected seriously.

“Every time we come here, I leave thinking, and I debate, Should we wear a mask when we’re here?” said Misty Perkins while watching her kids at a playground Monday. “We stay about 30 minutes and we’re outside. But they are playing with kids. They, of course, are going to play with kids. But it is a concern for us. It’s been a concern for us the whole year.”

Dr. Hobbs says the biggest takeaway from the study should be the importance of safety measures regardless of age.

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