Dr. Ron Brown
June 7, 2021
When assessing the need to vaccinate young children against COVID-19, international mortality statistics in this segment of the population can be useful. Generally, according to an analysis of age-specific data from seven countries between March 1, 2020, and February 1, 2021, mortality from COVID-19 is low in children below nine years and in young people 10-19 years, but unfortunately, there are noteworthy inconsistencies between countries. Children and young people remain at low risk of COVID-19 mortality (thelancet.com). For example, U.S. COVD-19 deaths in children 0-4 years are approximately twice as high as deaths in children 0-9 years in Italy and Spain, and no deaths have been reported in South Korea for children and young people from 0-19.
The authors note study limitations that include small sample sizes, possible country differences in case and death definitions, and differences in the diagnosis of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) which is associated with COVID-19. The study data also do not account for changes in mortality due to seasonality, even though increased mortality in children and young people have been observed during times of high community infection. Nevertheless, overall COVID-19 deaths compared to all-cause mortality in children and in young people across the seven countries in the study are very low.
The authors’ overall conclusions are that children are “not becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19,” and that most children do not require intensive care. These conclusions may be interpreted to imply little protection from serious illness provided to children from COVID-19 vaccinations. However, the authors warn the virus is “likely to change over time,” indicating a need for ongoing review.
Note that views expressed in this opinion article are the writer’s personal views and not necessarily those of TrialSite, Inc. or the COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund.