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Long Covid Kids UK Child Specific COVID-19 Infection Analysis

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

using official data running from the beginning of records up until final protections in England were removed on April 1st 2022




At Long Covid Kids we believe that all children should be able to thrive and look forward to a positive future. This is why our Charity represents and supports children and young people living with Long Covid, related illnesses and the parents and caregivers who look after them.



 

Contents

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Why analyse child-specific COVID-19 data?



From as early as January 2020 the UK was reassured that SARS-Cov-2 infection in children was akin to a cold virus; children didn't appear to significantly transmit and they didn't become ill or die. This narrative has been consistently backed by flawed and misrepresented research which has caused confusion and embedded into the heart of communities. Paediatric research and funding have been slow and the myth that children are rarely harmed by infection lingers along with handwashing being the best defence. SARS-CoV-2 is airborne.


The fallacy of relative privation asserts that if something is worse than the current problem, then the problem being discussed isn't really important. Comparing adult with child data has led to this. The magnitude of adult COVID-19 hospital admissions combined with their publicity has ensured that the plight of adults has consistently overshadowed all child SARS-CoV-2 infection experiences with any reference to child harm usually framed as 'scaremongering'. Long Covid Kids has worked hard to counter this narrative by striving to be a voice for all children and young people impacted by SARS-CoV-2 infection.


From the very beginning of the pandemic, Long Covid Kids have presented the real story of lived experience on the ground as it has unfolded. In addition to this, since records began our data team have extrapolated child from adult data to analyse the effect of the pandemic specifically on and between children.



Children are not small adults

Children's bodies are designed for growth

Children don't usually become chronically ill or die



Two years on Long Covid Kids are now a Charity. Our mission is awareness, support, research and action. By removing adult data from that provided by the Government Dashboard, The UK Health Security Agency and The Office for National Statistics we ensure that we ‘see’ children. We look into child-specific official statistics, evidence the impact of Covid-19 infection on the child population and present charts to illustrate that data.


This article evidences the effect of SARS-CoV-2 infection on children from the beginning of records up until all protections were removed in England on the 1st April 2022.



Click To Skip To Data sources






Summary grid from “Shining A Light on Long Covid in Children” Guidebook






Do Children Transmit SARS-CoV-2?



"With high heterogeneity (99%) children can transmit #SARSCoV2 just like adults"

Chair of British Paediatric Surveillance Unit, January 14th 2022








Can Children Be Reinfected With SARS-CoV-2 Multiple Times?



Yes, they can. There is currently no mechanism to separately analyse reinfections versus original infections by age but UKHSA is considering adding this feature. Most parents are aware of a child who has been infected two or more times. Sadly we have children in our Support Services living with Long Covid who have tested positive up to three times. We also support children who did not develop Long Covid until their second or third infection.


  • Wales was the first to add reinfections to their data

  • England reinfections were added on 31st Jan 2022

  • N Ireland reinfections were added on 17th Feb 2022

  • Scotland reinfections were added on 1st March 2022


UKHSA considers reinfection as a positive test more than 90 days after the previous positive COVID-19 test. Anecdotally Omicron is causing reinfections sooner and the CDC in the United States has identified Covid-19 reinfections as little as 23 days apart


Omicron is causing relatively more reinfections in children than adults. The latest data shows nearly a quarter of all cases in 10-14-year-olds are reinfections.





This graph shows us the percentage of possible Covid-19 reinfections experienced in different age groups in England only as of 31st March 2022






This graph shows us the percentage of children in England reinfected with

SARS-CoV-2 after 90 days*



*A positive test outside of 90 days is considered reinfection. Positive tests for any variant of COVID-19 within 90 days are considered part of the same case episode" UKHSA





Is The Omicron SARS-CoV-2 Variant More Harmful To Children?



There was more than double the rate of child Covid-19 hospital admissions in the Omicron peak than in former waves and sadly more children continue to be hospitalised and in higher numbers than before the arrival of the Omicron variant. During its peak in January 2022, 8.5% of all Covid-19 hospital admissions were children.

  • Presently 4.7% of all Covid-19 hospital admissions are children (UKHSA England, average for the 7 days to 31st March 2022),

  • There were 699 child Covid-19 hospital admissions in the week to 31st March 2022 (UKHSA, England)

There is no official information available regarding the discharge outcomes for any of these hospitalised children. We, therefore, do not know how many went on to receive care under a GP or paediatrician, or for how long. Observations from our Support Services have been highlighted to both the Government and NHS in official meetings.





What Constitutes an 'Underlying Medical Condition' in the Data?



We often hear data reported with the caveat that the children had “underlying conditions”. But what constitutes an underlying condition?


The ‘pre-existing conditions’ category includes chronic conditions that would rarely cause death on their own, such as;


  • Any mental health diagnosis

  • Common conditions that can range from trivial to severely life-limiting

  • An ‘other’ label that appears to be any condition (e.g. eczema)



For context, UK data shows us that:



Long Covid Kids consider the life, health and wellbeing of all children as of equal value.






What Do We Know About Child Covid-19 Hospital Admissions?



"NHS England conducted a very rapid evaluation of around 50 admissions of babies with Omicron across around 33 hospitals. For context, we were hospitalising 500+ under 5's per week with Covid-19 during the Omicron peak in January, and the latest data shows another wave may be arriving with 56 hospitalised on the 6th March alone.


Are these youngsters being infected by their school-aged siblings?"


James Neill, LCK Data Analyst




Research published in July 2021 shows that a quarter of children experienced persistent symptoms months after hospitalisation with acute Covid-19 infection, with almost one in ten experiencing multi-system involvement. Older age and allergic diseases were associated with a higher risk of persistent symptoms at follow-up.






Child Covid-19 hospital admissions exclude RSV which uses a separate test. Official data shows us that child Covid-19 hospital admissions are currently higher than RSV (1st April 2022)



  • As of 14th January 2022, the New York State analysis of Omicron stated that 53% of child hospital admissions list Covid-19 as the primary reason. For all admissions in England, NHS currently reports that 44% are primarily due to Covid-19. There is no separate % for children as yet.




Number of child COVID-19 hospital admissions per day running from

the beginning of records until 1st April 2022. England Only





How do COVID-19 Hospital Admissions Compare With Those of Flu and RSV?




Using official data this graph shows that since mid-December 2021 children under 5

have been at greater risk from COVID-19 hospital admission than RSV or flu





What Do We Know About PIMs Hospital Admissions?


  • PIMS hospital admissions are in addition to child COVID-19 admissions

  • PIMs typically appear 4-6 weeks after infection

  • Therefore, these children are usually admitted to the hospital after the 14-day testing cut-off period.



Long Covid Kids have been highlighting in official meetings that non-hospitalised presentations consistent with PIMs have been seen in their

Support Services since 2020.













Is The Omicron Variant More Harmful To Children?



There was more than double the rate of child Covid-19 hospital admissions in the Omicron peak than in former waves and sadly more children continue to be hospitalised and in higher numbers than before the arrival of the Omicron variant. During its peak in January 2022, 8.5% of all Covid-19 hospital admissions were children.

  • Presently 4.7% of all Covid-19 hospital admissions are children (UKHSA England, average for the 7 days to 31st March 2022),

  • There were 699 child Covid-19 hospital admissions in the week to 31st March 2022 (UKHSA, England)

There is no official information available regarding the discharge outcomes for any of these hospitalised children. We, therefore, do not know how many went on to receive care under a GP or paediatrician, or for how long.





Paediatric COVID-19 Deaths



Fake News:Only 6 healthy children” have died from Covid-19. A fact check explainer is published in the BMJ


An article led by Dr Tom Lawton looks at this issue in detail, with input from three of our own Long Covid Kids experts, Dr Deepti Gurdasani, Dr Stephen Griffin and LCK Consultant Data Analyst, James Neill.


  • 58% of paediatric deaths since "Freedom Day' (ONS, England & Wales)

  • 109 COVID-19 deaths registered to 31st March 2022 (ONS, England & Wales), plus 13 in Scotland and 2 in Northern Ireland: total124

  • 159 England paediatric deaths following a positive Covid-19 test (UKHSA, 28 days, 0-19 years) as of 31st March 2022

  • 1 in 19 deaths of 5-19 year-olds involved Covid-19 (ONS, England & Wales) Sept 2021-Feb 2022

  • COVID-19 is a significant cause of death for 5-19 year-olds in 2021 (ONS)

  • 71% of child deaths aged 0-19 in wave 3 had CV19 as the underlying cause of death, (not due to pre-existing conditions. ONS)

  • For context, an average of 18 children per year die from flu (ONS Nomis age 0-19 to 2020). We vaccinate children against the flu.




Number of child COVID-19 deaths per week

since records began up until April 2022. England and Wales only






How Common Is Long Covid In Children?


Sadly there has been well documented and consistent misrepresentation of child Long Covid data and research findings both in research articles and in mainstream media since early on in the pandemic. Often lowest prevalence figures are published with misleading headlines despite experts raising concern about the methodology gaps used in the research. Subsequently, Long Covid is the legacy of this novel neurotropic virus.



Note


Prevalence estimates vary. This is because different studies use different methods

● Researchers differ in their choice of symptoms to study

● Different studies look at a varied number of symptoms

● The symptom duration often differs

● How a case is determined can differ

● Calculations can be based on all children infected or all children in the population

● Definitions of relapsing and remitting symptoms vary

● Use of a control group and how robust the control group is can differ




Findings from the world’s largest study on Long Covid in children report a 14% prevalence.


There is now a World Health Organisation agreed definition for Long Covid in adults and a definition for the purposes of conducting research on Long Covid in children.




Definition for Long Covid in children

Until we have a worldwide agreed definition for paediatric Long Covid and formally count prevalence, the scale of the burden will remain unclear (1st April 2022).




Definitions for recovery

Each person's perception of recovery is individual to them.


Getting better is common and can include adapting lifestyle, ability to identify and respond to triggers, willingness or use of aids and appliances.


Pre-infection health is less common. Standard, universal definitions for both are urgently required.





"If we take the lowest estimate for Long Covid of just 1%,

at least 5, 320 children in the UK in January 2022 alone will suffer persisting symptoms. The mechanism of what is causing them and their long term consequences remain unclear"


26th January 2022




"I challenge those who rubbish self-reporting of Long Covid. I say, there's no better way in the absence of a valid and reliable biomarker or specific imaging finding.

As a general rule, believe what people tell you about the difference in their bodies before and after infection"


February 2022





The Office For National Statistics Long Covid Data


In the UK we had the benefit from the robust and world-renowned ONS prevalence estimates (ONS, 7 April 2022) which currently indicate that 149,000 children and young people are living with Long Covid; 31,000 of whom are still experiencing symptoms after 12 months. It is pertinent to note that anecdotal evidence in our Support Group also indicates symptom duration is continuing from first-wave infections to date. We are now seeing the impact of Omicron in this data, with a rise of 30,000 since January.






A summary graph of the long term symptom data published by the Office for National Statistics since data collection began in February 2021





This graph shows the number of children complaining of ongoing symptoms since their Covid-19 infection split into two age ranges and lengths of time (12 months, 3 months, any duration more than 4 weeks).





COVID-19 Orphanhood









Child COVID-19 Vaccines



Risk of myocarditis and pericarditis following vaccination

24 per 1 million double doses


Risk of hospital admission (not just symptoms) from COVID-19 (ages 5-17)

1st Jan to 31st March 2022

2, 954 per 1 million cases







Sources and workings


Since 1 January 2022, cases age 5-19: 1,217,596. Adjusted to obtain age 5-17: 1,088,348

Myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination: clinical management guidance for healthcare professionals






COVID-19 and Child Mental Health


Official Clinical Commissioning Group data from NHS Digital (England) currently shows that the increase in the number of under 18's being referred to mental health services is sadly part of a long term trend and not directly attributable to the current pandemic.





Data from the ONS shows "no evidence suicides increased during the COVID-19 pandemic".






Current data combined with future pandemic mental health data analysis should consider what is known about the links between depression, anxiety and some viral infections. Certain types of viral infections are associated with an increase in the prevalence of depression relative to the general population.






Recommended Reading


Asian Journal of Psychiatry. 2021.







 

Data Sources and Contact Details




Data Analysis, Charts and Statistics:


Long Covid Kids Consultant Data Analyst



Article Compilation:


Long Covid Kids Founding Member and COO



 



Admissions


Cases


Deaths


Contact Us

Data for Ireland, Scotland and Wales is not easily accessible or simply unavailable. Please contact Long Covid Kids with any queries or UK/ROI data to add to our article.

 

About

In 2021 Long Covid Kids became the first UK-based, international registered charity advocating for families, children and young people living with Long Covid.

The charity focuses on recognition, support and recovery and has already received recognition from the NHS and the Centre for Disease Control in the USA, as well as being a recommended resource in the NICE Long Covid guidelines.



Our Mission


Purpose
  • We believe all children should be able to thrive and look forward to a positive future. That is why we represent and support children and young people living with Long Covid and related illnesses and the parents and caregivers that look after them.


Our Vision
  • To achieve recognition, support and recovery for Long Covid and related illnesses in children and young people



Support Our Work


While children are living with life-changing symptoms and families struggle to seek support, we need to be here. Your donation will be used directly to support families living with Long Covid. Find out more about our Impact.





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