There has been substantial research on adult COVID-19 and how to treat it. But how do severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections afflict children? The COVID-19 pandemic has yielded many surprises, not least that children generally develop less severe disease than older adults, which is unusual for a respiratory disease. However, some children can develop serious complications from COVID-19, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and Long Covid, even after mild or asymptomatic COVID-19. Why this occurs in some and not others is an important question. Moreover, when children do contract COVID-19, understanding their role in transmission, especially in schools and at home, is crucial to ensuring effective mitigation measures. Therefore, in addition to nonpharmaceutical interventions, such as improved ventilation, there is a strong case to vaccinate children so as to reduce possible long-term effects from infection and to decrease transmission. But questions remain about whether vaccination might skew immune responses to variants in the long term. As the experts discuss below, more is being learned about these important issues, but much more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 in children.
Pierce CA, Herold KC, Herold BC, Chou J, Randolph A, Kane B, McFarland S, Gurdasani D, Pagel C, Hotez P, Cobey S, Hensley SE. (2022). COVID-19 and children. Science (New York, N.Y.), 377(6611)