More children than expected could be experiencing ‘long Covid‘, and an Edinburgh expert has warned the longer term effects could be worse for kids.
Professor Debby Bogaert, a paediatric infectious disease expert at Edinburgh University, pointed to new data which showed 13 per cent of kids aged two to 11 across the UK were still experiencing symptoms five weeks later.
This then increased to 15 per cent amongst young people aged 12-16, with Prof Bogaert arguing there was a need to examine the impact Covid has on children closely.
She said the argument that Covid does very little harm to children may now be weaker as argued against focusing solely on children’s role in spreading the virus to more vulnerable people.
Since the health crisis began in March last year very low numbers of children across Scotland have become seriously unwell with the virus.
But the new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), found higher than expected numbers of children who had the virus suffered long term effects.
Speaking to The Herald newspaper, Professor Debby Bogaert said: “We have been communicating that we should be careful in allowing the spread of virus amongst children because they might infect their parents, or grandparents or teachers. That discussion is very valid.
“But the argument it likely does very little harm to children might be now a bit weaker.
“I think there are now arguments which say we need to be cautious.
“Children don’t seem to have very acute infections but might have longer-lasting effects that need to be studied. The long-term effects might be more because they are still growing and developing.
“I’ve always said I think it’s wise to limit viral infections and also in children, despite the fact they very rarely get very serious disease, because we don’t know what the long-term consequences are.
“We do know they play a role in community spread but we now have a bit more evidence to try to prevent infections in children at all.
“Children need their social contact, they need school and I fully support that, but they have also the right to be protected and that’s becoming more clear.
“We need to make sure there are proper measures in place, such as ventilation and space, hygiene and masks. Everything that counts for the general population should count for children as well.
“I think that should already have been the message, but it’s now underlining that it’s also important for children.”
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Headaches were most common in children aged two to 16 following the virus, whilst a persistent cough and/or fatigue was more often reported older children aged 12-16, according to the ONS report released this week.
The older participants were, the more likely they would be to report symptoms of long Covid, peaking at 27 per cent for those aged 35-49.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Chief Scientist Office has funded nine extensive research projects on Long Covid through £2.5 million of funding and this will increase clinical knowledge on the long-term effects.”
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