PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Why children have mild or no illness with COVID-19 may be due to recent exposures to other coronaviruses, which can cause a common cold.
“It could be that their bodies have been trained to take care of coronavirus because they’ve had so many in their young age,” says AHN Pediatric Alliance pediatrician Dr. Joe Aracri. “As we get these studies, as we learn more about the virus, we keep learning little bits that try to put the whole thing together.”
In a study in the journal Science, researchers checked antibodies to portions of the spike protein that remain the same across coronaviruses. They checked blood samples collected before the pandemic, between 2011 and 2018.
The study included 48 children ages 1 to 16. Twenty-one of them, or 43 percent, had antibodies against part of the spike protein.
“The fact that kids get colds, and the fact that kids get runny nose and coughs, become protective for them,” says Dr. Aracri.
In the group ages 17 to 25, only one of 43 — or 5 percent — had the antibodies.
“One of the other things we know is that the antibodies to the virus wane over time,” he added. “What does this mean as far as fighting coronavirus in the long term? We still don’t know, but we’re getting clues every day.”
The information is a stepping stone to further research. Antibodies to coronaviruses, in general, could be one reason, but not the only reason, kids don’t get as sick as adults.