Why the New Coronavirus (Mostly) Spares Children

So far, very few young children seem to be falling ill. The pattern was seen in outbreaks of SARS and MERS, too.

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The new coronavirus has infected more than 28,000 people, and at least 563 have died. But relatively few children appear to have developed severe symptoms so far, according to the available data.

“The median age of patients is between 49 and 56 years,” according to a report published on Wednesday in JAMA. “Cases in children have been rare.”

So why aren’t more children getting sick?

“My strong, educated guess is that younger people are getting infected, but they get the relatively milder disease,” said Dr. Malik Peiris, chief of virology at the University of Hong Kong, who has developed a diagnostic test for the new coronavirus.

Scientists may not be seeing more infected children because “we don’t have data on the milder cases,” he said.

“If this coronavirus spreads worldwide, and it spreads as

widely as the seasonal flu does, probably we’ll see more,” he added.

 

 

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