The outbreak of a new coronavirus in China has killed more than 900 people, but one group has escaped with minimal damage: children.
Youth can certainly contract the virus. Among the infected are at least two newborns, according to Chinese health officials. But few children are among those sick enough to be diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to an article published Feb. 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to the data analyzed in that article — and numbers are changing quickly as the outbreak evolves — the median age of patients skews older, between 49 and 56 years old.
It's not entirely clear why children seem to be escaping the worst effects of the virus, dubbed 2019-nCoV. But a similar pattern holds for many infectious diseases, from the familiar, such as chickenpox and measles, to the newly emerged, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), doctors say.
"We don't fully understand the phenomenon — it may be because of differences in the immune responses of children compared to adults," Dr. Andrew Pavia, the chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah, told Live Science in an email. "One hypothesis is that the innate immune response, that is the early response that is aimed broadly at groups of pathogens, tends to be more active," in children, he said.
Thursday, February 13, 2020
New Viruses Killing Few Children