HealthDay News — Children in England had low positivity rates of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) during the first COVID-19 pandemic peak and also had a low case-fatality rate, according to a study published online Aug. 12 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Shamez N. Ladhani, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., from Public Health England in London, and colleagues examined disease trends, testing practices, community surveillance, case-fatality, and excess deaths in children compared to adults with COVID-19 in England between January and May 2020.

The researchers found that between Jan. 16, 2020, and May 3, 2020, children represented 1.1 percent of SARS-CoV-2 positive cases (1,408/129,704). In total, 24.0 percent of the 540,305 people tested for SARS-CoV-2 were positive. In children aged <16 years, 4.0 percent of the 35,200 tests performed were positive for SARS-CoV-2 compared with 19.1 to 34.9 percent of tests among adults. From mid-March, there was an increase in childhood cases, which peaked on April 11 and then declined. Three hundred fifty-one of the 2,961 individuals presenting with acute respiratory infection in primary care were children; 2.8 percent were positive for SARS-CoV-2 compared with 9.3 to 45.5 percent in adults. The case-fatality rate was 0.3 percent for children; no evidence of excess mortality was seen among children.

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“Consistent with other countries, children account for a very small proportion of confirmed cases and have very low case-fatality rates,” the authors write.

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