An evidence summary of Paediatric COVID-19 literature

Cite this article as:
Boast A, Munro A, Goldstein H. An evidence summary of Paediatric COVID-19 literature, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2020. Available at:
https://doi.org/10.31440/DFTB.24063

This post is a rapid literature review of pertinent paediatric literature regarding COVID-19 disease. We are proud to have joined forces with the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to provide systematic search, and selected reviews of all the COVID-19 literature relevant to children and young people.

Our search and review methods have changed as the pace and utility of the published literature has evolved over time. Our process involved a formal literature search (methods can be found here), followed by identification of all papers relevant to children/young people, then reading of every article by one of our team of doctors. Initially we produced a written review of all publications, however on April 17th 2020 we moved to a more selective review process. All articles were read in full, then if high enough quality, determined by consensus and involvement of a clinical academic, a written review was also produced.

As of June 30th 2020, we have again revised our process as the urgent need for rapid evidence synthesis has lessened, and the volume of research published remains extremely high, with much of it adding little to the current body of knowledge. Our search criteria has therefore narrowed, and of the articles identified as relevant, only those felt to be of exceptional quality or impact (as determined by consensus with involvement of a clinical academic) are selected for written review.

Our team of reviewers includes Alasdair Munro, Alison Boast, Henry Goldstein, Grace Leo, Dani Hall, Daniel Yeoh, Tessa Davis, Melody Redman, Sarah Sloan, Tricia Barlow, Anne Bean, Maeve Kelleher, Victoria Dachtler, Irnthu Premadeva, Lilian Nyirongo, Esther Alderson, Sunil Bhopal, Aimee Donald and Rachel Harwood.

Here we present the top 10 papers from each category (Paediatric clinical cases, Epidemiology and transmission, and Neonates). At the top is an Executive summary followed by all New and noteworthy studies.

If you have feedback please email us at hello@dontforgetthebubbles.com

Executive Summary (Updated 4th September)

Epidemiology

Around the world, children have made up a minority of confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic, usually contributing to between 1 – 5% of total case numbers. This almost certainly represents some undercounting of children in total case numbers as many countries have focussed on testing the most unwell. As countries have become better at shielding elderly populations and moved to community testing, the proportion of cases detected in children has increased (although predominantly in older children aged 10 – 19 years).

Countries which have produced representative population seroprevalence studies (including Switzerland, Spain and Italy) have found proportionately far fewer children have been infected than adults (young children <10 years in particular).

More detailed information has emerged into childhood severity of COVID-19. A large number of children may be asymptomatic, but the true proportion is unknown. Critical illness is very rare (~1%). In data from China, the USA and Europe, there is a “U shaped” risk gradient, with infants and older adolescents appear most likely to be hospitalised and to suffer from more severe disease. Deaths in children remain extremely rare from COVID-19, with only 4 deaths in the UK as of May 2020 in children <15 years.

Transmission

Precise details regarding paediatric transmission are still being ascertained, however important trends are emerging. Low case numbers in children suggest a more limited role than was initially feared. Contact tracing data from Asia, the USA, Europe and Israel have all demonstrated a significantly lower attack rate in children than adults, including testing of asymptomatic household contacts on both PCR and serology, indicated young children in particular are approximately half as likely as adults to acquire the infection given equivalent exposure.

The role of children in passing the disease to others is unknown, in particular given unknown numbers of asymptomatic cases. Notably, the China/WHO joint commission could not recall episodes during contact tracing where transmission occurred from a child to an adult. Studies of multiple family clusters have revealed children were unlikely to be the index case, in Guangzhou, China, Israel, the USA, Switzerland and internationally. Limited data on positive cases in schools have not demonstrated significant transmission, except within adolescent populations. Studies of younger children in schools have found low rates of transmission, but with very low case numbers. Household studies with children as index cases have so far been heavily biased by either shared exposure (children and their contacts becoming infected simultaneously) or increased exposure of caregiver to their symptomatic children post infection.

Studies of viral loads in children have generally found comparable levels of virus to adults, with no consistent or clinically relevant variation by age or symptom burden. Several studies have now shown that SARS-CoV-2 can be detected by PCR in the stool of affected children for several weeks after symptoms have resolved. Studies have confirmed there can also be live virus found in the stool of infected individuals. How much virus is present, and the extent to which faecal-oral transmission may be possible is yet to be confirmed.

Clinical features

A significant proportion of children with COVID-19 do not appear to develop any symptoms, or have subclinical symptoms, but it remains uncertain what this proportion is. The most detailed paediatric population data from China showed 13% of confirmed cases had no symptoms (cases detected by contact tracing). Considering both confirmed and suspected cases, 32% of children aged 6-10yrs were asymptomatic. Data from Italian emergency departments found 21% of SARS-CoV-2 positive children to be asymptomatic. Importantly, these studies did not follow up children to determine if they later developed symptoms, so the true proportion of asymptomatic children is unknown.

Possibly the most reliable data comes from serological screening with symptom surveys, suggesting approximately 50% of children may be asymptomatic, and only 10 – 15% will exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID-19 case definitions (cough, fever, shortness of breath). These studies are subject to recall bias.

Clinical features in symptomatic children are somewhat different to adults. Children tend to have more mild illness. The most common presenting features are cough and fever, occurring in over half of symptomatic patients. Upper respiratory tract symptoms such as rhinorrhoea and sore throat are also relatively common, occurring in 30-40% of patients. It is not uncommon for children to have diarrhoea and/or vomiting (around 10% of cases), even in some cases as their sole presenting features. Several case series of rashes resembling chill blains (often occurring on feet/toes) have been reported from Europe, contemporaneously associated with the COVID-19 outbreak but with few cases simultaneously confirmed to be infected

Blood tests also show slightly different features to adults. Lymphocytopaenia is relatively rare in children, with the majority having normal or sometimes raised lymphocyte counts. Inflammatory markers such as CRP and Procalcitonin are often raised but only very mildly. Slight elevations in liver transaminases appear to be common.

Radiographic features in children are also somewhat different to their adult counterparts. Chest X-rays are often normal, and many CT chest scans are also normal. When present abnormalities are often less severe, however a reasonable number of children have bilateral pneumonia. Changes may be found on CT even in asymptomatic children. Common features in abnormal CT scans include mild, bilateral ground glass opacities, but with less peripheral predominance than is reportedly found in adults.

There appears to be little in the way of clinical signs in children to differentiate COVID-19 from other childhood respiratory virus infections, or other benign childhood illnesses.

PIMS-TS/MIS-C

A new hyperinflammatory syndrome resembling Kawasaki shock, which appears to be a delayed immune response to COVID-19 has been described. It is known as PIMS-TS in Europe and MIS-C in the USA. Published reports from London, Italy, France and the USA in a cohort of children with evidence of past COVID-19 infection have presented with early symptom of abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, with persistent high-grade fever and commonly progression on to shock with cardiac involvement. High inflammatory markers, myocarditis, macularpapular rashes and non-suppurative conjunctivitis are common. Respiratory involvement is notably absent. Investigations are underway to ascertain a link and mechanism of disease. Most cases recover quickly, but there have been deaths reported.

Consistent with adult literature, children from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background seem to be at higher risk of severe disease from acute COVID-19 infection, and are significantly overrepresented in case reports of PIMS-TS

Newborns

A large number of cases of infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have now been reported, including several hundreds from the UK. Mothers and their babies in general appear to do well. There is a small but notable increase in the rates of preterm birth, and signals of increase in rates of foetal loss/stillborn delivery. There have been a few cases of infants delivered to mothers with COVID-19, who had elevated SARS- CoV-2 IgM. This may indicate intrauterine transmission, however swab PCR from these children has been negative and false positives with IgM tests are not uncommon. There have been case reports of newborns and very young infants testing positive including several within 12 hours of age, however they have mostly not suffered any complications of the disease and required minimal respiratory support. Evidence has been found of viral invasion into placenta, indicating possible intrauterine transmission. Vertical transmission however remains rare, occurring in approximately 2% of cases of maternal infection.

When tested, breast milk has usually been negative for SARS-CoV-2, but there have been a small number of instances where it has tested positive. It is unclear if this positive result reflects live, infectious virus, and whether the source was the mother or infants who subsequently also test positive for the virus. The vast majority of newborns have not acquired COVID-19 themselves. 

Children with co-morbidities

There is a growing body of evidence reflecting a small increased risk of children with comorbidities to be hospitalised or need intensive care from COVID-19. A pan European consortium found children with chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, neurological disease or malignancy had 3 times higher odds of needing admission to PICU; whilst this is an increased relative risk, the absolute risk remains small.  Studies from PICU admissions in the US and Italy also found the majority have some comorbidities, most commonly respiratory, cardiac or complex neurodisability. These are groups for whom there is already a background increased risk of complications from all respiratory viruses. The rates of complications from SARS-CoV-2 infection do not appear disproportionate to those from other respiratory viruses from this early data.

Conclusion

COVID-19 appears to affect children less often, and with less severity, including frequent asymptomatic or subclinical infection. There is evidence of critical illness, but it is rare. The role of children in transmission is unclear, but consistent evidence is demonstrating a lower likelihood of acquiring infection, and lower rates of children bringing infections into households. Changes in laboratory or radiographic parameters are slightly different to adults, and changes usually mild. There is some evidence of vertical transmission to neonates which appears predominantly perinatal but evidence of intrauterine infection does exist. Evidence suggests only a small increased risk to pregnant mothers and newborns compared to other groups. Children with respiratory, cardiac and complex neurodisability appear more likely to suffer complications, however not obviously more than would be expected from infection with other respiratory viruses.

New and Noteworthy (Updated 12th September)

Swann Olivia V, Holden Karl A, Turtle Lance, Pollock Louisa, Fairfield Cameron J, Drake Thomas M et al. Clinical characteristics of children and young people admitted to hospital with covid-19 in United Kingdom: prospective multicentre observational cohort study BMJ 2020; August 27th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3249 

This large prospective observational study from 260 hospitals in the UK examines the clinical characteristics of children (<19yo) hospitalised with laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection between 17th January and 3rd July 2020; as part of the International Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC) WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol UK cohort. The main outcome measures were admission to critical care, in-hospital mortality and MIS-C.

Results: A total of 651 children admitted to 138 hospitals were included; median age was 4.6 (IQR 0.3-13.7); 35% were <12 months of age. Of patients with recorded ethnicity 57% were white, 12% south Asian, and 10% black. 56% were male and 42% had identified co-morbidities. 

Symptoms: The most common symptoms were fever (70%), cough (35%), nausea / vomiting (32%), and dyspnoea (30%). Three distinct clusters of symptoms were identified:

– a discreet respiratory illness – cough, fever, dyspnoea, coryza and wheeze

– a mucocutaneous enteric illness – headache, myalgia, sore throat, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fatigue, rash, lymphadenopathy and conjunctivitis

– a rarer neurological ilness – seizures and confusion

Critical care and mortality: Critical care admission occurred in 18% (116/632); 8% received inotropic support; 9% received non-invasive and invasive ventilation respectively. Children of black ethnicity had higher odds of critical care admission (OR 2.82). Infants <1mo (OR 3.21, 95% CI 1.36-7.66) and children 10-14 yo (OR 3.23, 95% CI 1.55-6.99) were also more likely to be admitted to critical care. Co-morbidities including prematurity, respiratory and cardiac co-morbidities, and obesity were more common in those with critical care admission compared with those receiving ward care.

Six (1%) of patients died in hospital, all had serious comorbidities; 89% of children had been discharged alive and 10% remained in hospital at the time of reporting.

MIS-C: Based on the preliminary WHO case definition, 11% (52/456) of admitted children fulfilled diagnostic criteria for MIS-C. Children with MIS-C were older than those without (median 10.7 yo vs 1.6 yo) and were more likely to be of non-white ethnicity (64% vs 42%); obesity was also more common amongst those with MIS-C (10% vs 2%). Children with MIS-C were more likely to require critical care admission (73% vs 15%), receive inotropes (51%), invasive (27%), and non-invasive (35%) ventilation. There were no deaths due to MIS-C.

Of children with MIS-C differences were noted between those who were SARS-CoV-2 PCR positive (acute phase of infection – 56%) and those who were antibody positive (post-acute phase of infection – 44%). Antibody positive MIS-C patients were more likely to be of non-white ethnicity (90% vs 45%), less likely to be obese (0% vs 19%), and more likely to have conjunctivitis (71% vs 16%) and abdominal pain (95% vs 44%) compared to those who were PCR positive. Dyspnoea was more common in PCR positive patients (52% vs 14%). Cardiac complications were also more common in the antibody positive group (75% vs 35%). 

Conclusion: The findings of this large prospective study are consistent with previous studies indicating that children represent a small proportion of hospitalised cases of COVID-19 (0.9% here), that outcomes in children are generally favourable and that death due to COVID-19 in children is rare. Similar to previous studies, fever and cough were the most common symptoms, although gastrointestinal symptoms (35%) were more common in this cohort; the identification of a mucocutaneous-enteric symptom cluster with overlap with WHO MIS-C criteria is a novel finding here. Children of black ethnicity were over-represented in overall cases, as well as amongst children admitted to critical care units, consistent with adult data from the UK. Similarly, obesity was associated with an increased risk of critical care admission. 

The association of MIS-C with older age and non-white ethnicity is consistent with previous studies. In addition to current WHO criteria, fatigue, headache, myalgia, sore throat, and low platelet count were all associated with MIS-C.  The demographic and clinical differences identified between MIS-C patients who were antibody positive compared with those who were PCR positive suggest a spectrum of clinical presentation that varies according to the phase of infection and immune response.  

Kam K., K. C. Thoon, M. Maiwald, C. Y. Chong, H. Y. Soong, L. H. Loo, W. H. N. Tan, J. Li, K. D. Nadua, C. F. Yung SARS-CoV-2 Viral RNA Load Dynamics in the Nasopharynx of Infected Children, https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.31.20185488v1

This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed.  It reports new medical research that has yet to be evaluated and so should not be used to guide clinical practice.

This observational study, posted on medRxiv on 2nd September 2020, measured the daily SARS-CoV-2 viral load in nasopharyngeal samples of 17 infected children at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) in Singapore, in order to analyse the temporal trend of viral load in symptomatic and asymptomatic infected children.

Methodology:  KKH (an 830-bed teaching hospital for women and children) is the primary hospital for evaluation and isolation of paediatric COVID-19 cases in Singapore.  Data was collected from hospital records of paediatric inpatients presenting to the hospital between 23rd March and 5th April 2020 who were diagnosed as confirmed COVID-19 cases by nasopharyngeal swabs positive for SARS-CoV-2 rRT-PCR E gene assay (using the Corman et al protocol).  Most of these children were contacts of confirmed cases in their households.  Nasopharyngeal swabs were taken daily from every confirmed case.  Confirmed cases were discharged from hospital once they had 2 negative swab results on consecutive days.  Age, gender and cycle threshold (Ct) values of all nasopharyngeal swabs for each confirmed case were recorded.  Ct values are inversely correlated with viral load.  A Ct of 45 was considered undetectable.  All first-time positive results for each patient were confirmed by a second different PCR assay.

Measurement of viral load over time:  Ct values were reported in relation to: 1. day of onset of illness for symptomatic patients and 2. day of diagnosis for asymptomatic patients.  Average Ct values were calculated for each day of illness (symptomatic patients) or diagnosis (asymptomatic patients).  These were plotted graphically to compare average Ct trends on each day of illness/diagnosis for the 2 groups.  Since it is difficult to ascertain the exact day of infection in both symptomatic and asymptomatic children, a second analysis was performed in order to mitigate bias in timing of detection between the two groups, using an estimated day of infection for each case.  This was during the early part of the pandemic in Singapore with detailed contact tracing and testing and most children in this study were likely to have been infected by a household confirmed case: the date of symptom onset for the index household COVID-19 case was used as the estimated day of infection (for cases where this information was unavailable, the average duration for cases where the information was available was used).

Clinical features of confirmed cases:  17 children with nasopharyngeal swabs positive for SARS-CoV-2 were cared for as inpatients at the hospital during this two week period.  Median age was 7.7 years (range 0.3 to 15.8 years).  Gender of cases is not stated.  The cohort included Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian ethnicities.  10/17 (58.8%) were symptomatic.  All symptomatic children had a mild upper respiratory tract illness (no pneumonia or complications) with symptoms resolved by day 5 of illness.  All asymptomatic children remained well with no symptoms until discharge.

Mean duration of viral shedding:  Combined group 16 days (range 3-29 days) with symptomatic children 17 days and asymptomatic children 14 days (not statistically significant, p=0.48).  In the second analysis, using estimated day of infection to adjust for bias in timing of detection, the durations of viral shedding for the two groups were similar.  The longest duration of viral shedding was 30 days in a previously symptomatic child.

Viral loads in confirmed cases:  Higher on day 7 of illness for symptomatic children (mean Ct 28.6) than asymptomatic children (mean Ct 36.7) (95% CI = 1.9 to 14.3, p=0.02).  Peak viral loads occurred around days 2-3 of illness (symptomatic)/diagnosis (asymptomatic).  In the second analysis, using estimated day of infection to adjust for bias in timing of detection, the viral loads remained higher in symptomatic versus asymptomatic children.

Conclusions:  In this study (of a small sample of paediatric COVID-19 inpatients in a Singaporean hospital with a mild illness or asymptomatic in isolation after a positive test) the symptomatic SARS-CoV-2-infected children had higher viral loads in the nasopharynx than the asymptomatic children.  The authors suggest that this may indicate that symptomatic children may be more likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 than asymptomatic children.  They also suggest that pre-symptomatic transmission is probable since peak SARS-CoV-2 viral loads occurred early at around 2-3 days post-symptom onset.  Around 60% of infected children were symptomatic and around 40% asymptomatic.  The majority of cases had detectable virus on day 7 of illness/diagnosis.

Sola, A. M., A. P. David, K. W. Rosbe, A. Baba, L. Ramirez-Avila and D. K. Chan (2020). “Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Children Without Symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019.” JAMA Pediatr. August 25th 2020, doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.4095

An epidemiological study of asymptomatic Covid-19 in children across 28 centres in the US from 29/05/2020 to 09/07/2020.  Asymptomatic children presenting to the ENT team (for surgery, clinic or planned admissions) were screened for Covid-19.  It is noted that they may have had symptoms attributed to their underlying conditions that overlap with Covid-19 symptoms, but that there was not clinical suspicion of Covid-19.  

Covid-19 weekly incidence data for the whole population was then obtained for the geographical areas of the hospitals from Johns Hopkins for the same time period and compared with the paediatric asymptomatic screening results.

Results: 250 of 33 041 children (age range, 0-18 years) without symptoms were positive for Covid-19 (on PCR testing).  Prevalence varied from 0% to 2.2% between areas, with a pooled prevalence of 0.65% (95% CI, 0.47%-0.83%, with significant heterogeneity).

The whole population weekly Covid-19 incidence for each area was strongly correlated to the paediatric asymptomatic prevalence for that area.

Conclusions: Asymptomatic carriage of Covid-19 in children was found to be low but with significant heterogeneity of results according to centre.  It was strongly correlated with the whole population incidence of Covid-19 in that area.

Hao Lei, Xiaolin Xu, Shenglan Xiao Et al. Household transmission of COVID-19-a systematic review and meta-analysis, Journal of Infection,  Published: August 25, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf.2020.08.033  

Normally systematic reviews and meta-analyses are done only after research studies have accumulated over a long period of time. However with COVID-19, as in so many ways, the whole process has been accelerated. This brief review attempts to summarise the published evidence around rates of household transmission of the SARS-CoV2 virus from studies conducted in January-March 2020. Their search came up with 24 papers reporting 18 studies from China, 2 from South Korea, 2 from USA and 1 each from Taiwan and Germany. Only one study was prospective: the others were case ascertainment (13), or retrospective cohort studies (10).

The key outcome meta-analyzed was the household secondary attack rate (SAR), i.e. the number of identified cases divided by the number of household contacts. They found huge variations in SAR, ranging from 4.6% to 90%. This did not seem to depend on location. This degree of heterogeneity would suggest that the studies were very different in their methods and outcome measures. The pooled SAR was estimated at 27% (95% CI 21-32).

Some studies compared at-home and outside-home contacts, and found consistently, but not surprisingly, that home contacts were much more likely to transmit the virus: about 10 times the risk (OR 10.7; 95% CI 5.7-20.2).

More relevant to paediatricians, from the 8 studies where ages were reported, they found that adults were about 4 times more likely to become infected from household contacts than children (OR 3.7; 95% CI 2.8-4.9).

There is so much data missing from this meta-analysis that any conclusions must be guarded. Case definitions, testing accuracy, confidence that infection was acquired within the home rather than externally, and population demographics, will all have varied. There is also no distinction made between family households, and adult house-sharers: this may be particularly relevant as students return to universities.

Han, M. S., E. H. Choi, S. H. Chang et al. Clinical Characteristics and Viral RNA Detection in Children With Coronavirus Disease 2019 in the Republic of Korea.” JAMA Pediatr. August 28th 2020, doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.3988

This Korean case series examined children aged 0-18 years with COVID-19 who presented across 22 facilities (20 hospitals) from February 18-March 31st 2020. It focuses on clinical features and duration of SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR detection. A total of 91 were identified by SARS-CoV-2RNA RT-PCR on nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal or sputum swabs due to testing for one of the following reasons: symptomatic, close contact with a confirmed case, testing as apart of outbreak or screening on return from overseas.

Demographics included 53 (58%) male cases, with the median age being 11 years (range 27 days – 18 years). The majority (85, 93%) were previously well. Of the 6 with underlying medical conditions, 3 had asthma and epilepsy respectively.  Exposure was from a household contact in 57 (63%) of cases, with 15 (17%) imported, 11 (12%) cluster-associated, 4 from another contact, and 4 remaining an unknown source.

Cases were mostly mild (46, 51%) or asymptomatic 20 (22%). There were 20 moderate, 2 severe cases and 3 unclassified. No children required mechanical ventilation. Fever ≥  38 as seen in 27 (30%) of patents, 54 (60%) had cough or coryza , 8 had loss of smell or taste, 5 had anosmia and 16 (18%) had gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Only one patient had gastrointestinal symptoms without fever or respiratory symptoms. Two-thirds of children had symptoms prior to diagnosis (median time 3 days). The duration of symptoms for cases lasted a median of 11 days (range 1-36 days).  

The children were tested for SARS-CoV-2 repeatedly to determine cessation of virus RNA detection, however intervals were not standardized, with a median of 3 days (range 1-15 days). Children who were asymptomatic had virus RNA detectable for an average of 14.1 days, and those with URTI or LRTI symptoms, at 18.7 and 19.9 days respectively (difference between these groups was not significant). Twelve children were given treatment with lopinavir-ritonavir and two with hydroxychloroquine. There was no difference in detection between the groups treated with the antiviral lopinavir-ritonavir or not.

This study confirms what many previous studies have demonstrated, which is that children with SARS-CoV-2 can remain PCR positive for prolonged periods. This study adds that this is also the case for children who do not develop symptoms. What is unclear is for how long this represents live virus with replicative potential. Culturable virus has not been detected beyond day 8 of symptoms. The authors of this study did not provide ct values which would enable some estimate of the presence of culturable virus (low ct values usually represent viral fragments).

Heald-Sargent T, Muller WJ, Zheng X, Rippe J, Patel AB, Kociolek LK. Age-Related Differences in Nasopharyngeal Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Levels in Patients With Mild to Moderate Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 30, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.3651

This research letter looked at 145 patients aged 1 month to 65 years old who were symptomatic and had positive SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR on nasopharyngeal swab at a paediatric hospital in Chicago between March 23 and April 27th, 2020. Included were 46 children aged <5 years, 51 aged 5-17 years of age and 48 adults. Cycle threshold values of RT-PCR were measured and compared across the three age groups. A significant difference was found with children under 5 having lower cycle threshold values than children aged 5-17 and adults. The older children and adults had no significant difference found in cycle threshold.

These findings are at odds with most other studies of viral loads in children, which have shown little clinically relevant difference to levels found in adults (or if anything slightly lower levels). The reason is unclear, but this study confirms what was already known, that children carry viruses in their nasopharynx which is potentially transmissible (previous studies have found a culturable virus in children). To what extent this correlates with how infectious children may remain unknown.

Diriba, K., E. Awulachew and E. Getu (2020). “The effect of coronavirus infection (SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV) during pregnancy and the possibility of vertical maternal-fetal transmission: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Eur J Med Res 25(1): 39. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40001-020-00439-w 

Although the broader aims of this ambitious study are outlined in the title, a primary objective appears to have been to provide point estimates of a range of outcome prevalences, in both mothers and babies, associated with infection in pregnancy caused by SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV. 

The stated process for literature selection and appraisal was that of a systematic review, using primarily the standard critical appraisal instruments of the Joanna Briggs Institute. However, the authors report that the methodological framework for the study was one which was described for scoping studies, and it may be that the outcomes of this study might be seen to be in line with those of a scoping study rather than providing the precision of useful point estimates, given the heterogeneity of the meta-analysis data.

The robustness of the processes of the systematic review is difficult to evaluate, given the limited description in the text, no doubt in part attributable to word count restrictions. I did not identify a defined PICO, or equivalent, although the inference would be that the “population” and “intervention” were combined as pregnant women who had contracted infection caused by one of the three viruses; no “comparator” was referred to. The stated primary outcome was “the pregnancy outcomes observed” which were listed as:  preterm birth (PTB; either before 37 or 34  weeks of gestation); preeclampsia; preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (pPROM); fetal growth restriction (FGR); miscarriage; maternal death; mode of delivery; other clinical features; laboratory findings; coexisting disease. The keywords used for the literature search were: coronavirus; novel coronavirus-2019 infection; pregnancy; Middle East respiratory syndrome; severe acute respiratory syndrome; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2, and vertical transmission. It is difficult to be confident that these terms would identify all reports of the outcomes of stated interest, such as maternal symptoms, laboratory findings and neonatal mortality. Although it is stated that Boolean operators were employed, there is no description of how they were used. Only studies reported in English during the period 2003 – 2020 were included and all study designs, including case reports and at least one placental study, were eligible. A more detailed critique of the methodology of the systematic review is outside the scope of this review.

Of the papers selected for the review, 25 related to SARS-CoV-2, 7 to MERS-CoV, and 7 to SARS-CoV. However, in terms of patient numbers the SARS-Co-V-2 group predominated, with 1271 identified pregnancies, compared with 12 and 33 respectively in the other two groups; the outcomes were reported separately for each of the three viruses.  The following outcomes from this study focus on babies born to mothers who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 – the reported findings relating to the mothers is beyond the scope of this report.

Some of the reported outcome numbers and statistics would benefit from clarification but the findings relating to selected outcomes for the babies are shown in the table, compared with those of a UK-based prospective cohort study of pregnant women hospitalised with confirmed SARS-CoV-2, which was also included in this systematic review; the UK study included a historical non-infected comparator group, for which outcome data are also shown in the table. 

None of the studies in this systematic review were found to have provided evidence of proven in-utero (“vertical”) transmission of Sars-CoV-2 from the mother to the fetus in utero.

Table: Outcomes for babies born to pregnant women infected with SARS-CoV-2

OutcomeDiriba et alKnight et al*


Sars-Co-V-2 Infected Non-infected

n=430-747n=427n=694
Delivery at <37 weeks14.3% (CI 9.2-33.2)28%8%
Caesarean section57% (CI 48.9-78.8)59%29%
Admission to NICU11.6% (CI 5.4-22.6)26%5%
Perinatal mortality1.2% (CI 1.0-8.7)1.2%0.4%

*All mothers were hospitalised

The heterogeneity of the selected studies, and of the resulting outcome data, included in this systematic review is high, with an I2 value of 98% in a meta-analysis of one of the maternal outcomes. The risk of selection bias is, therefore, also high and the reported pooled prevalence outcomes must be viewed with caution. However, the broader findings of the review concur with previous studies that the risks of preterm delivery, caesarean section, and NICU admission are increased for babies born to mothers infected with Sars-CoV-2; the data concerning perinatal mortality perhaps require further scrutiny. This systemic review has also identified a large number of studies relating to Sars-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy and possibly provides direction to more focused studies of relevant outcomes. The findings also support the evidence from previous studies that in-utero transmission of Sars-CoV-2, if it occurs, is uncommon.

V. Demers-Mathieu, M. Dung, G. Mathijessen et al. Difference in levels of SARS-CoV-2 S1 and S2 subunits and nucleocapsid protein-reactive SIgM/IgM, IgG and SIgA/IgA antibodies in human milk. Journal of perinatology. 1st September 2020, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41372-020-00805-w

This is a case-control study making multiple comparison between different groups of human milk samples to determine the difference in the levels of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. The study collected two groups of human breast milk samples; 2020 HM (n=41) was collected between 30/02/20 – 03/04/20 and 2018 HM (n=16) was collected between 06/09/18 – 29/11/18. Both groups were further subdivided into those who were vaccinated (2020 HM n=26) to influenza and/or tetanus, diptheria and polio during pregnancy and those who were unvaccinated (2020 HM n=15). The mothers from the 2020 HM were not asked about their COVID 19 infection/exposure but were asked about viral respiratory symptoms in the preceding year. Mothers did not have an infection of any kind at the time of milk collection. All donor mothers resided in the USA, had negative HIV, HTLV, Hep B, Hep C and syphilis status, completed a health questionnaire and were not using specific medications. The presence and levels of secretory IgM (SIgM)/IgM, IgG and SIgA/IgA antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 S1 and S2 subunits and nucleocapsid were determined using ELISA. The S1 and S2 subunits are integral to the virus binding to host cell and the subsequent release of the viral RNA into the cell, respectively. Nuclocapsid protein binds to viral RNA to form the capsid, as well as interacting with the viral membrane proteins during assembly. The paper clearly describes the experiment protocol used to quantify the levels of antibodies in different samples. 

The presence of the antibodies was determined using the 2020 HM group’s samples and the percentage of samples in which they were detected is shown below. 

AntibodyAntigen
S1 and S2 subunitNucleocapsid
SIgM/IgM68.3%87.2% (1.2 times higher)
IgG58.5%46.2% (equivocal) 
SIgA/IgA97.6%56.4% (1.7 times lower)

The study goes onto compare the different levels of the different antibodies within the same sample and also the levels of the same antibody in different groups of samples. The results with statistical significance are outlined below.

Comparator AComparator BResultP value
SARS CoV2 S1+S2 reactive SIgA/IgASARS CoV2 S1+S2 reactive IgMHigher levels of SARS CoV2 S1+S2 reactive SIgA/IgAP<0.001
SARS CoV2 S1+S2 reactive SIgA/IgASARS CoV2 S1+S2 reactive IgGHigher levels of SARS CoV2 S1+S2 reactive SIgA/IgAP<0.001
SARS CoV2 nucleocapsid reactive IgMSARS CoV2 nucleocapsid reactive IgGHigher levels of SARS CoV2 nucleocapsid reactive IgMP<0.001
SARS CoV2 nucleocapsid reactive IgMSARS CoV2 nucleocapsid reactive IgAHigher levels of SARS CoV2 nucleocapsid reactive IgMP=0.038
SARS CoV2 nucleocapsid reactive IgASARS CoV2 nucleocapsid reactive IgGHigher levels of SARS CoV2 nucleocapsid reactive IgAP=0.038
Vaccinated (2020 HM)Unvaccinated (2020 HM)2.9 times higher levels of SARS CoV2 S1+S2 IgG in vaccinated groupP=0.004
Influenza vaccinated (2020 HM)Not vaccinated against influenza (2020 HM)Higher levels of SARS CoV2 S1+S2 IgG in vaccinated groupP=0.031
Viral symptoms (2020 HM)No viral symptoms (2020 HM)3.5 times higher levels of SARS CoV2 S1+S2 IgG in viral symptoms groupP=0.049
2020 HM2018 HM4.3 fold Higher levels of SARS CoV2 S1+S2 IgG in 2020 HMP=0.013
2020 HM2018 HM2.7 fold Higher levels of SARS CoV2 nucleocaspid IgG in 2020 HMP=0.04

SARS CoV2 S1+S2 IgA increased with increasing IgM (p=0.050) and IgG (p=0.005). SARS CoV2 nucleocapsid IgA increased with increasing IgM (p=0.05). SARS CoV2 S1+S2 IgM increases with increasing SARS CoV2 nucleocapsid IgM (p<0.001).

This study demonstrates the presence of antibodies to SARS CoV2 S1+S2 subunits and nucleocapsid in human breast milk, with SARS CoV2 S1+S2 reactive IgA and SARS CoV2 nucleocapsid reactive IgM being the highest levels of the antibody isotype to the antigens. The detection of these antibodies in the 2018 HM suggests that there may be cross-reactivity from exposure to other coronavirus or other virus families. The authors also note that human milk antibodies are polyreactive and have the ability to recognise a variety of antigens. This may suggest that breastfeeding babies may allow transferring of SARS CoV2 related immunity to the infant whether the mother was specifically exposed to COVID 19 or not. It is interesting that there is a higher level of SARS CoV2 S1+S2 IgG in the vaccinated and influenza vaccinated group. This adds weight to the importance of driving home the public health aspect of getting vaccinated during pregnancy. There is no information available on whether the mothers were diagnosed with or had exposure to COVID 19. However, the self-reported viral symptoms group having higher levels of SARS CoV2 S1+S2 IgG suggests that the clinical manifestation of viral infection increases the production of antibodies. The detection of these antibodies in human milk does not translate into avoidance of clinical manifestation of infection in infants. Further studies are required to assess the outcome of babies who are fed with breastmilk containing the antibodies against SARS CoV2 antigens, when exposed to COVID-19.

Top 10 Neonatal Papers

Knight, K. Bunch, N. Vousden et al. Characteristics and outcomes of pregnant women hospitalised with confirmed SARS-CoV 2 infection in the UK: A national cohort study using UK obstetric surveillance system. Nuffield Department of Population Health, UKOSS Publications 11th May 2020, https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.08.20089268

As a pre print this study should be interpreted with caution until it has undergone peer review.

This is a prospective observational national cohort study carried out across all 194 consultant-led maternity units in the UK. It captured data from women admitted to hospital with confirmed SARS CoV 2 between 01/03/20 and 14/04/20, with tests having been carried out only if the woman was symptomatic. 427 women were studied and compared to a historical control sample of 694 women admitted between 01/11/17 – 31/10/18 (a historical sample was chosen to avoid confounding by including asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic carriers of COVID). The total number of maternities in the study period was 86293 and therefore the incidence of admission the SARS CoV 2 confirmed women was 4.9 per 1000 maternities. The median gestation at admission was 34 weeks (IQR 29-38 weeks), with 81% of admissions in the 3rd trimester. The results showed that there was a statistically significant risk of admission with SARS CoV 2 patients who had the following factors:

From a Black and Minority Ethnicity group: adjusted OR 4.49 (3.37-6.00). Even after sensitivity analysis which excluded women from London, West Midlands and North West England which had high rates of general infection OR 3.67 (2.55-5.28)

Overweight: adjusted OR 1.91 (1.37-2.68)

Obese: adjusted OR 2.20 (1.56-3.10)

Pre-existing medical condition (asthma, hypertension, cardiac disease or diabetes): adjusted OR 1.52 (1.12-2.06)

Maternal age ≥ 35: adjusted OR 1.35 (1.01-1.81)

Being a current smoker reduced the risk of admission, with adjusted OR 0.3 (0.17-0.51).

The odds ratio for each significant factor outlined above was adjusted for the other significant factors which became confounding variables. There were 40 admission to level 3 critical care with 4 requiring ECMO. There were 5 maternal deaths recorded, 3 of whom had been admitted to critical care. SARS CoV 2 associated maternal mortality was 5.6 (1.3-13.1) per 100,000. Only 9 women were treated with antivirals (oseltamivir, lopinavir/ritonavir and/or remdesivir). 61 women were given corticosteroids for the maturation of fetal lung.

247 women in this cohort gave birth (singleton/multip proportion not stated) to a live infant (n=243) or had a pregnancy loss (n=4). 59% of women gave birth via c-section with 20% under general anaesthetic compared to 29% of the control group with 7% of women delivering under GA. There were 63 (26%) preterm births (<37 weeks) and 29 of these were documented as being secondary to COVID 19 infection; the other reasons stated were iatrogenic, fetal compromise and other obstetric conditions. This is compared to 8.9% of births in the control group being born preterm. There were 5 neonatal deaths, including 3 stillbirth; in two of the cases of stillbirths, it is unclear whether COVID 19 infection contributed to death. The rate of pregnancy loss, still birth, livebirth and neonatal death was not statistically different between the groups. The NICU admission rate was 26% (majority for prematurity) and 5% in the cohort and comparison groups, respectively. 12 infants tested positive for SARS CoV 2, with 6 being within the first 12 hours of life (early). 1 in the early positive and 5 in the later positive groups were admitted to NICU.

This is a national study reporting on the largest cohort of SARS CoV 2 positive pregnant women admitted to hospitals with symptoms. There is likely to be an underestimation of the true effect size presented in this report as analysis was carried out in only those patient in whom data was returned and not on the entire cohort of admissions in the specified time period.  The results convincingly show important risk factors (maternal age, black and minority ethnicity, BMI, and pre-existing medical condition) for admission and thus confers the severe of infection in these risk groups. The black and minority ethnicity risk factor, which existed even after the sensitivity analysis, requires urgent further analysis and study as it was the biggest risk factor and one which has not been demonstrated to be the case in other coronavirus strains. The supposed protective factor of current smoker status is not explained in this report but could reflect lower current prevalence of smoking in pregnancy in general compared to the prevalence at the time of the historical sample. The report also highlights that most of the admission with SARS CoV 2 was in the second and third trimester thus providing weight for the precautions currently being taken in this group of women. However, they also correctly identify that there may be a sampling bias as those in the first trimester may be being admitted to hospital via routes other than the maternity services. There was a higher rate of preterm deliveries (statistical significance unknown) which is difficult to interpret but raises questions as to what extent the maternal infection may cause fetal compromise triggering preterm birth.

2% of babies tested positive for SARS CoV 2 suggesting a risk of vertical transmission, especially since 3 of the positive cases were pre-labour, c-section delivered babies. However, the IgG or IgM status of the infants is unknown and there were no placental, umbilical cord, etc samples taken/reported. The discussion states that mothers and infants were kept together with infection control measures (surgical face masks) and the low rates of neonatal infection supports continuation of this practice. However, 6 of the 12 infants testing positive for SARS CoV2 required neonatal unit admission, majority of whom were classed as late infections as they tested positive after 12 hours of life. There is no information provided on the reason for these admissions and what support and/or treatment was required during this time. It is important to point out that the report does not specially say that all other infants born to this cohort of mothers were tested for SARS CoV 2 and found to be negative. Further questions are raised in the two cases of stillbirth which may have been caused by COVID 19. There is also no clarification on the characteristics of the cases of neonatal death (e.g. were they preterm, was mother critically ill in ITU, etc) which would have added greatly to the analysis of this report.

Although this study does not provide enough detail to draw firm conclusions, it provides an important basis for further avenues where research is needed.

Zeng L, Xia S, Yuan W et al. Neonatal Early-Onset Infection With SARS-CoV-2 in 33 Neonates Born to Mothers With COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 26, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.0878

This is a cohort study following 33 neonates born to COVID-19 positive mothers, recruited Wuhan Children’s Hospital, Hubei Province, China, between January 2020 and February 2020. The authors describe three cases of early-onset neonatal COVID-19, which they suggest implies vertical transmission. However, amniotic fluid, cord blood and maternal breast milk of the mothers of all 3 positive neonates were negative for SARS-CoV-2, therefore it is unclear whether the infection was transmitted vertically or environmentally.

Three of the 33 neonates tested positive for COVID-19 on day 2 of life (positive nasopharyngeal or anal swabs). All 3 were born by caesarean section, two at term and the third at 31+2 for premature rupture of membranes and foetal distress.

Clinical features: The two term COVID-19 positive neonates had fever, although the authors don’t define what temperature they consider fever. These two neonates were also lethargic, but neither had respiratory distress. Neonate 3 was the most unwell, although this may be due to prematurity, poor condition at birth and sepsis rather than COVID-19. He was born at 31+2, required resuscitation at birth and had poor Apgars of 3, 4 and 5 at 1, 5 and 10 minutes, requiring non-invasive ventilation for respiratory distress. His blood cultures were positive for Enterobacter agglomerates.

Bloods: Neonate 1 (fever and lethargy) had normal bloods except raised procalcitonin (0.09 microgram/L). Neonate 2 (fever, lethargy and vomiting) had a leucocytosis, lymphocytopenia and elevated CK. Neonate 3 (premature with sepsis) had leucocytosis, thrombocytopenia and coagulopathy with prolonged PT (21 sec) and APTT (81.9 sec).

Radiology: All 3 had radiological evidence of pneumonia on CXR.

The authors state that because strict infection control and infection prevention procedures were implemented during delivery, SARS-CoV-2 isolated from their upper respiratory tracts or anuses was therefore maternal in origin. However, although it is stated in the illustration that one neonate was immediately quarantined after birth, it’s not clear whether this was the case for the other two babies. Plus, the negative amniotic fluid and cord blood does raise the question as to whether these neonates were truly infected in utero or not.

Yu, Nan et al Clinical features and obstetric and neonatal outcomes of pregnant patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective, single-centre, descriptive study, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 0, Issue 0, Published:March 24, 2020 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30176-6

This is a retrospective study of 7 pregnant mothers infected with COVID-19 between Jan 1st and Feb 8th at Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, China. They were all at term (range 37/40 – 41+2/40). The mothers were all symptomatic, mainly with fever, cough, shortness of breath and diarrhoea. They all delivered via emergency caesarian section. All mothers did well.

The babies were all born with normal apgars. 4 babies were discharged home and not tested for SARS-CoV-2 and never developed symptoms (including at 28d follow up phone call. 3 children were tested, of which one was positive at age 36hrs (reported in separate study, Wang et.al Clinical infectious Diseases, but did well with no fever or cough and mild shortness of breath). The other 2 tested negative and were later discharged without complication.

Chen H, Guo J, Wang C, et al. Clinical characteristics and intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection in nine pregnant women: a retrospective review of medical records. Lancet 2020; 395 :809–15. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30360-3

This retrospective case series looks at 9 pregnant women who were positive for COVID19 in Wuhan University Hospital between Jan 20th and Jan 31st. They all underwent a caesarean section (between 36 and 39+4 gestation). All newborn babies were well with good APGARS and, importantly, tests from 6 (3 not tested) patients were negative for SARS-CoV-2 in all amniotic fluid, cord blood, neonatal throat swabs, and breastmilk samples. There was no evidence of vertical transmission.

Dong L, Tian J, Songming H et al. Possible Vertical Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 From an Infected Mother to Her Newborn. JAMA. Published online March 26, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.4621

This is a case report that would suggest that vertical transmission of COVID-19 can occur. A 34+2 primiparous woman was diagnosed with COVID-19 (she was symptomatic with fever and respiratory difficulty and had classic CT chest findings and a positive nasopharyngeal swab for SARS-CoV-2). She was treated with antiviral medications, antibiotics and corticosteroids.

Her female infant was delivered by caesarean section 4 weeks after the onset of her mother’s symptoms in good condition with Apgars of 9 and 10. Although the infant’s nasopharyngeal swabs were negative, her IgM antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were raised at 2 hours post delivery and cytokine levels were elevated. The risk of environmental infection was minimised: the caesarean was performed in a negative pressure room, the mother wore an N95 mask and did not hold her infant and the infant was immediately isolated in NICU. Maternal vaginal secretions were negative for SARS-CoV-2, which would also suggest the infection did not happen at birth. As IgM antibodies do not cross the placenta, the infant’s elevated IgM antibody levels suggest that she was infected in utero. Moreover, IgM antibodies usually do not appear until 3 to 7 days after infection. The infant also had raised IgG antibodies, but IgG is transferred placentally so this may reflect maternal or infant infection. The mother’s breast milk was negative for SARS-CoV-2 1 week following delivery.

Zeng H, Xu C, Fan J, et al. Antibodies in Infants Born to Mothers With COVID-19 Pneumonia. JAMA. Published online March 26, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.4861

This report outlines the course of 6 mothers who were symptomatic for COVID-19 in their last trimester, and gave birth to 6 liveborn infants. This study is notable for antibody testing of both mothers and infants. The accuracy of the antibody tests are suspiciously high given current struggles to produce adequate tests around the world, and should be treated with a high degree of caution.

All 6 infants were born in good condition, and all tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 viral throat swabs and blood PCR. Unsurprisingly all infants had elevated IgG or SARS-CoV-2 (as this crosses the placenta), but notably 2 infants had raised IgM (39.9AU/ml and 16.25AU/ml). This raises the possibility of intrauterine infection, similar to another case of an infant with raised IgM (Dong et al JAMA). Issues with cross reactivity of IgM are well described, and so whilst full validation of these tests is awaited internationally, this should be treated with caution.

Liu, Yangli et al. Clinical manifestations and outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy.Journal of Infection, Volume 0, Issue 0 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf.2020.02.028

This is a small case series of 13 pregnant women with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection between December 8 2019 and February 25 2020, in China. Two women were <28 weeks at presentation, the remainder were in the third trimester. One infant was stillborn, the 12 remaining infants (92%) were well at birth with no complications. None were positive for SARS-CoV2 or had ‘serological evidence’ of vertical transmission. The method of testing neonates was not clearly defined. The stillborn neonate had a mother who was severely unwell on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) at the time of delivery.

Five of the 10 patients (50%) were delivered by emergency cesarean section due to pregnancy complications including fetal distress (30%), premature rupture of the membrane (10%) and stillbirth (10%). Interestingly, six patients (46%) had preterm labour between 32- 36 weeks of gestation.

Han, M. S., M. W. Seong, E. Y. Heo, J. H. Park, N. Kim, S. Shin, S. I. Cho, S. S. Park and E. H. Choi (2020). “Sequential analysis of viral load in a neonate and her mother infected with SARS-CoV-2.” Clin Infect Dis. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa447

This is a case report of a 27 day-old female neonate with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Over the course of a short and reasonably mild illness, samples were tested from the nasopharynx, oropharynx, plasma, urine, stool and saliva. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected in all samples. Early in the infection, viral load was highest in the nasopharynx and oropharynx, decreasing to undetectable at day 17. Viral load in stool, however, remained high throughout, despite cessation of gastrointestinal symptoms. This was in contrast to the mother’s stool sample in which viral load was undetectable earlier.

Groß, C. Conzelmann, J. A. Müller, S. Stenger, K. Steinhart, F. Kirchhoff and J. Münch. Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in human breastmilk. Lancet, May 21st 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31181-8

This report is presented as a letter.

The study primarily relates to the SARS­CoV­2 content of the breast milk of two “nursing mothers” who shared a room postnatally, with their babies, and who developed swab-positive mild Covid-19 infection after birth – three days and six days respectively. The gestation and birthweights of the babies are not reported but they seem to have been full term, well at birth and initially well for the first few days following delivery.

The babies developed abnormal respiratory signs, one with jaundice, at 8 days and 11 days respectively, both becoming swab positive for SARS­CoV­2 at about the same ages and both being admitted to a Neonatal Unit. One infant, who also tested positive for RSV, subsequently required mechanical ventilation. It is stated that one infant recovered but the outcome for the ventilated infant is not given.

The patient identification and recruitment processes are not described.

Breast milk was collected, after feeds and after nipple disinfection, from each mother starting at eight days and four days respectively after development of Covid-19 symptoms. Samples were collected on postnatal days 12-15 for the first mother and 10, 12, 13, 14 and 25 for the second. Testing for SARS­CoV­2 RNA was performed using RT­qPCR.  Information on the method of nipple disinfection is not provided.

A separate laboratory-based study investigated the effect of breast milk on viral recovery rates by “spiking” breast milk with serial dilutions of a SARS­CoV­2 stock.

The main findings of potential importance are:

  1. The breast milk of one of the mothers tested positive for SARS­CoV­2 RNA at 10-13 days after birth. Testing of breast milk from the other mother was negative.
  2. Quantification using Ct values corresponded to 1∙32 × 10⁵ copies per mL in whole milk and 9∙48 × 10⁴ copies per mL in skimmed milk.
  3. An 89∙2% reduction in recovery rate in whole milk and 51∙5% in skimmed milk, suggesting that the actual viral loads in whole milk of the mother could be even higher than detected.

This study provides the first report of the detection of viral RNA in human breast milk collected from a mother who had clinical signs of Covid-19 confirmed by PCR testing of swabs. This does not provide evidence that the RNA was indicative of infectious virus or that transmission of the virus to the baby occurred via breastmilk. Further studies will be necessary to attempt to culture virus from breast milk and assess risk of transmission, which to date has seemed low.

Li, M., L. Chen, J. Zhang, C. Xiong and X. Li (2020). “The SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 expression of maternal-fetal interface and fetal organs by single-cell transcriptome study.” PLoS One 15(4): e0230295. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230295

The study explores the presence of Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) within the placenta and the developing baby. It demonstrates significant expression of RNA coding the for ACE2 protein at several points of the maternal-foetal interface, as well as variable expression in a number of foetal organs. This theoretically provides a potential route for vertical transmission, placental dysfunction and pregnancy complications. The authors call for further clinical analysis to establish this potential.

Top 10 Clinical Papers

Götzinger, F., B. Santiago-García, A. Noguera-Julián, et al.  “COVID-19 in children and adolescents in Europe: a multinational, multicentre cohort study.” Lancet Child Adolesc Health. 

This European multicentre cohort study recruited centres from the Paediatric Tuberculosis Network European Trials Groups, to look at 582 cases of paediatric (<18 years old) SARS-CoV-2 infection in 21 countries with 77 healthcare centres. Centres from five additional countries reported no SARS-CoV-2 cases at the time of the study. The breakdown of centres included 454 (78%) tertiary, 54 (9%) secondary and 74 (13%) primary healthcare providers.

Cases were collected retrospectively from identified cases prior to 1st April and prospectively between 1-24th April. The diagnosis was made based on RT-PCR of SARS-CoV-2 alone. The age group of the population was young, with a median age of 5 (IQR 0.5-12) and 230 (40%) under 2 years of age. Just over half were male (n=311, 53%).

Index case data was included from the history, with parents being the suspected case for 324 patients (56%) and siblings accounting for 24 cases (4%). However, a large number of cases (n=234, 40%) were either from someone outside of the immediate family or of unknown transmission.

The most common symptoms were fever (n=379, 65%) and respiratory symptoms (n=313, 54% URTI and n=143, 25% LRTI). 128 (2%) had gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and 40 (7%) had GI symptoms without respiratory symptoms. Asymptomatic patients accounted for 16% of all cases (92). There was confirmed viral co-infection in 5% (n=29) of patients. The study did not capture laboratory values. A chest x-ray was performed in 34% (n=198) of patients. Almost half of the x-rays showed findings consistent with pneumonia and ten (5%) of ARDS.

Of the patients included in the study, a quarter (145) had pre-existing medical conditions. Twenty-nine patients had pre-existing respiratory conditions (asthma accounting for 16) and malignancy was known in 27 patients. The study collected data on antiviral treatments administered however numbers were small and depended on local practice.


Across the cohort 363 patients (62%) required hospital admission, 48 (8%) required ICU admission. Factors increasing risk of ICU admission (n=48) were found to be age <1 month (n=7/48, 14.6%) the presence of any pre-existing medical condition (n=25/48 52%) and presence of lower respiratory tract infection signs at time of presentation (n=35/48, 73%). Mechanical ventilation was required for 25 patients (4%) and ECMO was needed in one patient. Data on treatments given included antivirals: hydroxychloroquine (n=40, 7%), remdesivir (n=17, 3%), lopinavir-ritonavir (n=6, 1%) and oseltamivir (n=3, 1%). Other immunomodulators used were corticosteroids in 22 (4%), IvIG in 7 (1%), tocilizumab (n=4, 1%), anakinra (n=3, 1%) and siltuximab (n=1).

There were 4 deaths (0.69%), all of which were in children older than 10 years of age. Of the four deaths, one was an out of hospital cardiac arrest and two had pre-existing medical conditions; one patient had a stem cell transplant 15 months prior and another patient was managed palliatively due to their pre-existing illness. By the end of the study period, 553 patients had made a full recovery and 25 patients had ongoing symptoms.

This is one of the first multi-national European studies of SARS-CoV-2 in children. Common symptoms included respiratory and fever but gastrointestinal symptoms were present in over one-fifth of cases. Although eight percent of children required ICU admission, the case fatality rate was low at 0.69%. Children at greater risk of intensive care admission had pre-existing medical conditions, were less than 1 month old or presented with lower respiratory tract symptoms. Asymptomatic infection occurred in 16% of cases. Given that at the time of the study, there were varying practices for screening criteria, it is likely that the true proportion of asymptomatic patients is higher (and true case fatality rate lower)

Lu X, Zhang L, Du H, et al. SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Children. N Engl J Med 2020;:NEJMc2005073. doi:10.1056/NEJMc2005073

This retrospective study examines the clinical characteristics of children with confirmed COVID-19 diagnosed at Wuhan Children’s hospital. There were 1391 children tested between Jan 28th and Feb 26th 2020 due to confirmed contact with a case of COVID-19. Of these, 171 were confirmed to have SARSCoV-2.  The median age was 6.7yrs, and there was a relatively even spread amongst age groups. Children were predominantly male (104/171, 60.8%).

Clinical features: 83/171 had cough, 79/171 had pharyngeal inflammation (sore throat), 71/171 had fever. 15/171 had diarrhoea and 13/171 had rhinorrhoea. 49/171 were tachypnoeic on admission and 72/171 were tachycardia. Only 4/171 had Oxygen saturations <92% during hospitalization. 0/31 infants <1yr were asymptomatic in this cohort, with rates of asymptomatic infection increasing with age. There were higher rates of pneumonia in infants (25/6), but their definition is unclear. We also have no information regarding co-infection with other viruses or bacteria.

Radiology: Not delineated into CXR or CT, but descriptions sound like CT findings. The most common was bilateral ground-glass opacity (56/171) followed by unilateral patchy shadowing (32/171) and bilateral patchy shadowing (21/171). There were several children with radiographic pneumonia who were asymptomatic.

Bloods: The supplementary appendix contains lab results. Only 6/171 patients had lymphopaenia, the vast majority were in normal range (Med 2.9×109/L, IQR 2.2 – 4.4). CRP was elevated (>10mg/L) in 33/171 (Med 4, IQR 1.3 – 8) of which 27/33 had pneumonia.

Outcomes: 3 patients required ITU admission and intubation. All 3 had comorbidities, including hydronephrosis, leukaemia, and intussusception. The child with intussusception suffered multiorgan failure and died after 4 weeks. The cause of death is not clear from the report. As of writing 149 patients had been discharged with 21 stable in the general wards.

Parri N, Lenge M, Buonsenso D; Coronavirus Infection in Pediatric Emergency Departments (CONFIDENCE) Research Group. Children with Covid-19 in Pediatric Emergency Departments in Italy [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 1]. N Engl J Med. doi:10.1056/NEJMc2007617

This report covered confirmed COVID-19 infections in children under 18 years of age who presented to a research collaboration of 17 paediatric emergency departments in Italy between March 3rd and March 27th. The median age was 3.3 years and 57/100 were male. Children under 1 year were overrepresented (40%) followed by children >10yrs (24%).

Helpfully, the authors categorize their patients according to criteria from Dong et. al (see review in theEpidemiology top 10): Asymptomatic 21%, Mild 58%, Moderate 19%, Severe 1%, and Critical 1%. Only 12% of patients appeared ill on assessment. Interestingly only 4% of patients had oxygen saturations <94%. Only 38% of children needed admission for the severity of illness. There were no deaths. The supplementary appendix includes a huge amount of detailed analysis of the cases, which are summarised below

Clinical features: Fever 54%, Cough 44%, Feeding difficulty 23%, Sore throat 4%, Rhinorrhoea 22%, Diarrhoea 9%, vomiting 10%.

Bloods: Largely unremarkable (although reports of lymphopenia unclear – state 14 patients lymphopenic but that this is 28%? – perhaps only 50 children had bloods, but this is not reported). Procalcitonin <0.5ng/L in 29/23 patients.

Radiology: Chest x-rays were performed for 35 children, of which 14/35 had interstitial abnormalities, 6/35 consolidation, and 1/35 pleural effusion: remaining 15/35 normal.

Comorbidities: There were 27/100 children with comorbidities – although it appears most had a mild illness (did not require respiratory support). This included 6 with cystic fibrosis, 4 neurological, 4 haematological, 4 with a syndrome, 3 with prematurity, 2 with cardiac conditions, 2 immunological, 2 ontological, and 1 metabolic disease.

Of the few patients that required respiratory support (9/100) a significant number had comorbidities (6/9), although the range was broad. This included two children with “epileptic encephalopathy”, one of whom also had CHARGE syndrome, a child with autism, a child with a VSD, a child with propionic acidemia, and a child with thrombocytopenia and frequent respiratory infections.

In comparison to Dong et al, the CDC data, and Lu et al, most features are broadly comparable. Some notable differences are a significantly larger number of infants in the Italian data (40% <1yr compared to 18% in Lu, 12% in Dong and 15.5% in CDC) and a slightly higher number of asymptomatic children (21% compared to 16% Lu, 13% Dong and 1.3% CDC). This most likely represents differences in the population cohorts presenting for testing among the different studies – comparison between cohorts is always difficult due to broad differences in the denominators used. There is no apparent difference in severity according to age in this Italian data set, whereas CDC noted increased hospitalization in children <1yr and Dong et al noted higher rates of severe or critical illness in infants <1yr.

Broadly speaking, this study confirms findings from China and the USA regarding the presence of significantly milder illness in children with COVID-19, including many asymptomatic children. A note is made of overrepresentation of children with comorbidities in this cohort (similar to the CDC data), although most of these still had mild illness. It is unclear if these children become more unwell, or are more likely to present to be tested.

DeBiasi RL, Song X, Delaney M, Bell M, Smith K, Pershad J, et al. Severe COVID-19 in Children and Young Adults in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Region. The Journal of Pediatrics.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.05.007

This is a retrospective cohort study, describing 177 children and young adults with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection treated between March 15 and April 30 2020 at the Children’s National Hospital, Washington DC US. Children and young adults were detected because of presentation with symptoms at emergency departments, ambulatory clinics, inpatient units, or by referral for admission from external facilities. Of 177 patients, 44 (25%) were hospitalized, with 9 (5%) classified as critically ill. The aim of the study was to identify if any specific epidemiological or clinical features were associated with hospitalization, or critical care.  

This hospital served as a regional centre providing critical care for young adults aged 21 – 35 years, therefore not all patients would be termed “paediatric patients”. The overall patient age range was from 0.1 – 34.2 years, with a median of 9.6 years. Of the total group 12/177 were > 20 years of age, and 37/177 were between the ages of 15 – 20years. 

Age: There was no significant difference in age between the hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients, however in the hospitalized cohort, the critically unwell group were significantly older than the non-critically unwell hospitalized group (17.3 years versus 3.6 years; P =.04) 

Sex: There was equal representation (n = 177 52% male, 48% female), as well as in the hospitalised cohort (n=44 50% male, 50% female). However, males made up 67% of the critically ill cohort (n =9, 67% male, 33% female); but this was not statistically significant (p=0.26)

Race/ethnicity: data not provided, authors describe plans to do so in follow up analysis 

Underlying conditions: 39% of positive patients had an underlying condition (classified as asthma, diabetes, neurological, obesity, cardiac, haematological, oncological). Though asthma was the most common underlying condition (35/177 20%), it was not more common in hospitalized patients (7/44 16%), nor of those admitted, or those who were critically unwell (2/9, 22%). Though the numbers were small, specific underlying conditions such as neurological, cardiac, haematological, or oncological issues were more common in the hospitalised cohort than the non hospitalised cohort. They were not more common in the hospitalized critically ill compared with the hospitalised non critically ill. The authors noted there was no underlying condition present in 96/177 (55%) of overall SARS-CoV-2 infected patients overall, 16/44 (37%) of hospitalized patients and in 2/9 (22%) of critically ill patients.

Symptoms:  76% of infected patients presented with respiratory symptoms (rhinorrhea, congestion, sore throat, cough, or shortness of breath) with or without fever. Fever was present in 116/177 (66%) but was not more common in the infected hospitalized cohort (34/44, 77%) compared with the non-hospitalized cohort (82/133, 62%; p=0.46). 

Shortness of breath was more common in the hospitalized cohort (11/44, 26%) compared with non-hospitalized (16/133, 12%; p=0.04). Patients in the critically ill cohort were not more likely to have a fever or any other specific symptom compared with the non-critically ill cohort.

Critical Care: 9 patients required critical care. This represented 5% (9/177) of the total cohort and 20% (9/44) of admitted patients. 4 required intubation (3 ARDS, 2 multiple organ failure); 3 required BiPAP, 1 RAM cannula, and one high flow nasal cannula oxygenation. One patient had features consistent with the recently emerged Kawasaki disease-like presentation with hyper-inflammatory state, hypotension, and profound myocardial depression; a 4 year male with no underlying conditions. 

Summary:  A very clear description of 177 patients with SARS-CoV-2, in one large centre in Washington DC. 25% of patients needed hospitalisation and 5% needed critical care. Older teenagers and adults who required admission were overrepresented in requiring critical care. Though underlying conditions were more common in hospitalized patients, they were not significantly more common in the hospitalized patients who required critical care. Shortness of breath was the only symptom that was more common in hospitalized patients. No specific symptom was more apparent in patients needing critical care. One critically ill patient had features of the recently described hyperinflammatory state. 

de Lusignan, S., J. Dorward, A. Correa, N et al, (2020). “Risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 among patients in the Oxford Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre primary care network: a cross-sectional study.” Lancet Infect Dis. May 15th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30371-6

This study examines the demographic and clinical risk factors for testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 amongst patients within a large primary care network in the UK. This included tests done through Public Health England and the UK National Health Service (NHS) between January 28th and April 4th 2020 with clinical and sociodemographic data extracted from patients’ primary care medical records.

Overall 587 of 3802 patient tests returned a positive result for SARS-CoV-2. Of children 4.6% (23/499) tested positive compared with 17.1% (564/3303) of adults.

In a multivariate logistic regression, adults had significantly higher odds of a positive test compared with children; those aged 40-64 (aOR 5.36, 95% CI 3.28-8.76) and >75 (aOR 5.23, 95% CI 3.00-9.09) were at highest risk.
Male sex (aOR 1.55, 95% CI 1.27-1.89), social deprivation (aOR 2.03, 95% CI 1.51-2.71), and black ethnicity (aOR 4.75, 95% CI 2.65-8.51) were also associated with an increased risk of a positive SARS-CoV -2 test. Of clinical factors, only chronic kidney disease (aOR 1.91, 95% CI 1.31-2.78) and obesity (aOR 1.41, 95% CI 1.04-1.91) were significantly associated with testing positive. Surprisingly, active smoking was associated with lower odds of a positive test (aOR 0.49, 95% CI 0.34-0.71) possibly due to presentation confounding (i.e. presence of cough in chronic smokers prompting increased testing in this group).


This is the first study to utilise primary care data to assess risk factors for testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the community. The risk factors identified are similar to those associated with severe COVID-19 in hospitalised patients including increased age, male sex and obesity. The higher odds of a positive test in adults compared with children here are consistent with other studies suggesting children are at lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with adults.

González-Dambrauskas S, Vásquez-Hoyos P, Camporesi A, et al. Pediatric critical care and COVID19. Pediatrics. 2020; doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-1766

In preprint, González-Dambrauskas et al describe 17 children with COVID-19 admitted to international PICUs in Chile, Colombia, Italy, Spain and USA, in April 2020. These are interim results from the CAKE (Critical Coronavirus And Kids Epidemiologic) Study, recruiting between April and December 2020 from almost 60 PICUS in 20 countries. As well as describing the clinical details of each child in detail, this paper also describes four children with myocarditis associated with covid-19.

The 17 children predominantly presented with cough and fever (53% had cough, 76% had fever). Comorbidities were common in 71% of children, including underlying respiratory, cardiac, renal, liver or neurological disorders. Six children (35%) had gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms at presentation. 

Of the four children with myocarditis, all were based in Europe, none had previous cardiac disease, and all presented with fever and GI symptoms. One also had a rash and conjunctivitis. These children all developed myocarditis early in their clinical picture, with average duration of symptoms prior to presentation of 3.5 days. All four children received IVIG. Three of these children also required inotropic support; one child also developed ARDS and acute kidney in addition to myocarditis, requiring non-invasive ventilation but not renal replacement therapy. None of the four children with myocarditis required mechanical ventilation. All four children survived to discharge home, with a mean hospital length of stay of 13.5 days.

González Cortés, R., García-Salido, A., Roca Pascual, D. et al. A multicenter national survey of children with SARS-CoV-2 infection admitted to Spanish Pediatric Intensive Care Units. Intensive Care Med (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-020-06146-8

The Spanish Paediatric Intensive Care Society have published their findings of 50 children admitted to 47 PICUs in Spain between 1st March 2020 and 1st May 2020 with SARS-CoV-2. More than 90% of PICUs in Spain were represented in this national database. During the study period there were no deaths from SARS-CoV-2 in children admitted to PICU in the participating PICUs.

The authors divided the children into two groups: those requiring ventilation and those not requiring ventilation, to assess for different characteristics between these groups. Fourteen (28%) of the children were ventilated.  Twenty-seven (54%) of the 50 children in the study had suspected PIMS-TS; these children were less likely to require mechanical ventilation (4 of the 27 required ventilation) than those without PIMS-TS. Statistical significance between the two groups was found for age (median age of 2.8 years in the ventilated group, compared to 8.6 years in the non-ventilated group); co-morbidities (12, 24%, of the 50 children had comorbidities; 8 of these were ventilated); and clinical presentation with respiratory difficulties or an ARDS-type picture.

Overall, of the 50 children, 23 (46%) had haemodynamic instability, 20 (40%) had respiratory difficulties and 1 (2%) had neurological symptoms. Shock was present in half of the children (25, 50%), renal failure in 8 (15%) and cardiac dysfunction in 17 (34%). 

Across the 50 children, white cell count (median 9.26, IQR 5.64-14.46), lymphocytes (median 1.02, IQR 0.42-2.59) and CRP (median 13.9, IQR 4.9-27) were not statistically different between ventilated and non-ventilated children.

These are the preliminary findings from this national registry of children with SARS-CoV-2 admitted to PICU in Spain. Further results and analysis will provide more information regarding critically unwell children with COVID-19.

M. A. De Ioris, A. Scarselli, M. L. Ciofi Degli Atti, et al. Dynamic viral SARS-CoV-2 RNA shedding in in children: preliminary data and clinical consideration of Italian regional center. J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. May 23rd 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/jpids/piaa065

This study at a paediatric hospital in Rome tracked SARS-CoV-2 shedding (nasopharyngeal, faecal, urinary and conjunctival) by following a cohort of 22 children during their hospital stay, collecting clinical and microbiological data. 

Study design:  The study ran from 16th March to 12th April in the COVID centre at Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital and collected data on 22 in-patients with an initial positive nasopharyngeal swab (either prior to admission or on admission).  RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 RNA on nasopharyngeal and conjunctival swabs and stool and urine samples were repeated every 2-3 days for each child while they were inpatients until they had two consecutive negative results in the absence of new symptoms.  Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to estimate the duration of symptoms and viral shedding for symptomatic patients: patients whose last swab/sample was still positive were censored at the date of the last swab.

Study population:  15/22 (68%) male, 7/22 (32%) female.  Median age 7 years (range 8 days to 17.5 years).  4/22 neonates (1/4 tested because mother positive and 3/4 tested because midwife positive).  2/22 comorbidity (Angelman syndrome, suspected genetic syndrome and autism).  13/22 patients were discharged before the end of the study period (median inpatient stay 7 days, range 3-15 days).  

Symptoms:  4/22 (18%) asymptomatic (including 2/4 neonates, the other 2/4 had low-grade fever and poor feeding).  18 symptomatic patients: 15/18 (83%) fever, 10/18 (55%) respiratory symptoms, 7/18 (39%) diarrhoea and vomiting, 3/18 (17%) seizure.  Symptoms had resolved in all 18 before discharge from hospital.  The median duration of symptoms was 8 days (range 2-21 days).  15/22 had a positive stool sample at admission: of these 7/15 (47%) had respiratory symptoms and 3/15 (20%) had diarrhoea and vomiting.

Viral shedding:  At diagnosis: 22/22 (100%) had positive nasopharyngeal swab (by definition), 15/22 (68%) had positive stool sample, 1/22 (5%) had positive urine sample (re-test 2 and 5 days later was negative; another patient had initial negative urine test but repeat 3 days later was positive) and 2/22 (9%) had positive conjunctival swab (both were negative 2-3 days later).  A detailed table charting the dates of inpatient stay, onset, and end of symptoms and positive/negative swabs/samples for each patient is supplied: the full screen of faecal, urinary and conjunctival sampling was performed at variable intervals after the initial positive nasopharyngeal swab (up to 5 days later in several cases).  For symptomatic patients:  (1) from date of symptom onset to negative nasopharyngeal swab: median 8 days (range 2-17 days) and (2) from date of symptom onset to negative stool sample: median 14 days (range 10-15 days).  The estimate of the persistence of viral shedding at day 14 from symptom onset for nasopharyngeal swab was 52% and for stool sample 31%.

The authors note the need to confirm the clinical relevance of faecal SARS-CoV-2 shedding in terms of the risk of transmission via the faeco-oral route.

Galván Casas, C., Català, A., Carretero Hernández, et al. (2020), Classification of the cutaneous manifestations of COVID-19: a rapid prospective nationwide consensus study in Spain with 375 cases. Br J Dermatol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/bjd.19163

This article from a team in Spain aimed to classify cutaneous manifestations of COVID-19 and relate them to other clinical findings. 

From 3rd of April 2020 to 16th of April 2020 they collected 429 cases but excluded 54 leaving a sample of 375 patients. A standardised questionnaire was used, photographs were taken and the questionnaires and photographs were independently reviewed by 4 dermatologists.

Data was collected by Spanish dermatologists from across the country most of whom had been redeployed from their usual dermatology posts.

Patients with an eruption of recent onset (previous 2 weeks) and no clear explanation, plus suspected or confirmed COVID-19 were included.

They describe 5 cutaneous manifestations.

Acral areas of Erythema-oedema with some vesicles or pustules: 19% of cases. These were more likely in children.

Other vesicular eruptions: 9%. May also affect the limbs and have a haemorrhagic content, and become larger or diffuse.

Urticarial lesions: 19%. Mostly distributed in the trunk or disperse. A few cases were palmar.

Other maculopapular: 47%. Some showed perifollicular distribution and varying degrees of scaling, Some had been described as similar to pityriasis rosea.

Livedo or necrosis: 6%

Strengths of this study are the large number of patients recruited and that four dermatologists independently reviewed the images. It adds to the understanding of skin manifestations of COVID-19, which may give additional information when trying to make a clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 if other symptoms are non-specific, also the cutaneous manifestations may persist for some time once other symptoms have resolved.

A weakness is the authors did not specify the age of the patients involved so the usefulness for paediatric patients is limited. Also, in some areas, diagnosis of COVID-19 infection could only be made clinically, based on symptoms as the ability to test patients was limited during the height of the pandemic. 

Xiong, X., G. T. Chua, S. Chi et al. A Comparison Between Chinese Children Infected with COVID-19 and with SARS. J Pediatr. June 18th 2020, https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.jpeds.2020.06.041

In this study, 244 children with SARS-CoV-2 infection from Wuhan, China are compared to 44 children diagnosed with SARS (SARS-CoV-1) in in Hong Kong in 2003. 

The clinical details of this series of patients from Wuhan, previously described elsewhere, are compared with those of children with SARS-CoV-1. Overall children with SARS-CoV-2 were younger than those with SARS-CoV-1 (median age 82 months vs 160 months). Compared with SARS-CoV-1 patients, children with SARS CoV-2 were less likely to have symptoms (20.9% asymptomatic vs 0% of SARS-CoV-1), including fever (40.2% vs 97.7%), myalgia (37.6% vs 0.8%), and chills (32.6% vs 3.7%). 

Fewer children with SARS-CoV-2 required supplemental oxygen (4.7% vs 18.6%) and few in either cohort required mechanical ventilation (1.6% vs 2.3%). A single death occurred in a patient with SARS-CoV-2 (a 10 mo with intussusception) and no cases of PIMS-TS / MIS-C were identified amongst the 244 SARS-CoV-2 infected children from Wuhan.

The most striking difference is the milder clinical illness and relative lack of symptoms in children with SARs-CoV-2 compared with those with SARS-CoV-1. The lack of asymptomatic infections in SARS-CoV-1 is also notable, similar to findings in adults. Whilst the role of asymptomatic patients in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is unresolved, the milder clinical illness in the majority of patients along with the demonstrated earlier peak in viral shedding relative to symptom onset and resultant role of pre-symptomatic transmission are likely major reasons for the continuing widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2, where the outbreak of SARS-CoV-1 in 2003 was more readily contained.

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Please note that whilst all papers have been reviewed for the database and consideration of the overall updates, only selected papers which added new information at the time of publication had a formal review written. The sublists below also include the top ten papers for convenience.

Larger Cohort Clinical Papers 

Götzinger, F., B. Santiago-García, A. Noguera-Julián, et al.  “COVID-19 in children and adolescents in Europe: a multinational, multicentre cohort study.” Lancet Child Adolesc Health. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4642(20)30177-2/fulltext

This European multi centre cohort study recruited from participating centres from  the Paediatric Tuberculosis Network European Trials Groups, to look at 582 cases of paediatric (<18 years old) SARS-CoV-2 infection in 21 countries with 77 healthcare centres. Centres from five additional countries reported no SARS-CoV-2 cases at the time of the study. The breakdown of centres included 454 (78%) tertiary, 54 (9%) secondary and 74 (13%) primary healthcare providers.

Cases were collected retrospectively from known cases prior to 1st April and prospectively between 1-24th April. Diagnosis was made on RT-PCR of SARS-CoV-2 alone. The age group of the population was young, with a median age of 5 (IQR 0.5-12) and 230 (40%) under 2 years of age. Just over half were male (n=311, 53%).

Index case data from history was included, with parents being the suspected index case for 324 patients (56%) and siblings accounting for 24 cases (4%). However a large number of cases (n=234, 40%) were either from someone outside of the immediate family or of unknown transmission.

The most common symptoms patients presented in were fever (n=379, 65%) and respiratory symptoms (n=313, 54% URTI and n=143, 25% LRTI). 128 (2%) had gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and 40 (7%) had GI symptoms without respiratory symptoms. Asymptomatic patients accounted for 16% of all cases (92). There was confirmed viral co-infection in 5% (n=29) of patients. The study did not capture laboratory values. Chest x-ray was performed in 34% (n=198) of patients. Almost half of the x-rays showed findings consistent with pneumonia and ten (5%) of ARDS.

Of the patients in the study, a quarter (145) had pre-existing medical conditions. Twenty nine patients had pre-existing respiratory conditions (asthma accounting for 16) and malignancy was known in 27 patients. The study collected data on antiviral treatments administered however numbers were small and depended on local practice.

Across the cohort 363 patients (62%) required hospital admission, 48 (8%) required ICU admission. Factors increasing risk of ICU admission (n=48) were found to be age <1 month (n=7/48, 14.6%) the presence of any pre-existing medical condition (n=25/48 52%) and presence of lower respiratory tract infection signs at time of presentation (n=35/48, 73%). Mechanical ventilation was required by 25 patients (4%) and echo was used for 1 patient. Data on treatments given included antivirals: hydroxychloroquine (n=40, 7%), remdesivir (n=17, 3%), lopinavir-ritonavir (n=6, 1%) and oseltamivir (n=3, 1%). Other immunomodulators used were corticosteroids in 22 (4%), IvIG in 7 (1%), tocilizumab (n=4, 1%), anakinra (n=3, 1%) and siltuximab (n=1).

There were 4 deaths (0.69%), all of which were in children >10 years of age. Of the four deaths, one was an out of hospital cardiac arrest and two had pre-existing medical conditions; one patient had a stem cell transplant 15 months prior and another patient was managed palliatively due to their pre-existing illness. By time of end study 553 patients had made a full recovery and 25 patients had ongoing symptoms.

Overall, this is one of the first multi-national European studies of SARS-CoV-2 in children. Common symptoms included respiratory and fever but gastrointestinal symptoms were present in over one fifth of cases. Although eight percent of children required ICU admission, the case fatality rate was low at 0.69%. Children at greater risk of intensive care admission had pre-existing medical conditions, were less than 1 month old, or presented with lower respiratory tract symptoms. Asymptomatic infection occurred in 16% of cases. Given that at the time of the study, there were varying practices for screening criteria, it is likely that the true proportion of asymptomatic patients is higher (and true case fatality rate lower)

Lu X, Zhang L, Du H, et al. SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Children. N Engl J Med 2020;:NEJMc2005073. doi:10.1056/NEJMc2005073

This retrospective study examines the clinical characteristics of children with confirmed COVID-19 diagnosed at Wuhan Children’s hospital. There were 1391 children tested between Jan 28th and Feb 26th 2020 due to known contact with a case of COVID-19, of these 171 were confirmed to have SARSCoV-2.  Median age was 6.7yrs, and there was a relatively even spread amongst age groups. Children were predominantly male (104/171, 60.8%).

Clinical features: 83/171 had cough, 79/171 had pharyngeal inflammation (sore throat), 71/171 had fever. 15/171 had diarrhoea and 13/171 had rhinorrhoea. 49/171 were tachypnoeic on admission and 72/171 were tachycardia. Only 4/171 had Oxygen saturations <92% during hospitalisation. 0/31 infants <1yr were asymptomatic in this cohort, with rates of asymptomatic infection increasing with age. There were higher rates of pneumonia in infants (25/6), but the definition of this is unclear. We also have no information regarding co-infection with other viruses or bacteria.

Radiology: Not delineated into CXR or CT, but descriptions sound like CT findings. The most common was bilateral ground glass opacity (56/171) followed by unilateral patchy shadowing (32/171) and bilateral patchy shadowing (21/171). There were several children with radiographic pneumonia who were asymptomatic.

Bloods: The supplementary appendix contains lab results. Only 6/171 patients had lymphopaenia, the vast majority were in normal range (Med 2.9×109/L, IQR 2.2 – 4.4). CRP was elevated (>10mg/L) in 33/171 (Med 4, IQR 1.3 – 8) of which 27/33 had pneumonia.

Outcomes: 3 patients required ITU admission and intubation. All 3 had comorbidities, including hydronephrosis, leukaemia and intussusception. The child with intussusception suffered multiorgan failure and died after 4 weeks. The cause of death is not clear from the report. As of writing 149 patients had been discharged with 21 stable in the general wards.

Parri N, Lenge M, Buonsenso D; Coronavirus Infection in Pediatric Emergency Departments (CONFIDENCE) Research Group. Children with Covid-19 in Pediatric Emergency Departments in Italy [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 1]. N Engl J Med. doi:10.1056/NEJMc2007617

This report is of confirmed COVID-19 infections in children under 18 years of age who presented to a research collaboration of 17 paediatric emergency departments in Italy between March 3rd and March 27th. The median age was 3.3 years and 57/100 were male. Children under 1 year were overrepresented (40%) followed by children >10yrs (24%).

Helpfully they categorise their patients according to criteria from Dong et. al (see review in Epidemiology top 10): Asymptomatic 21%, Mild 58%, Moderate 19%, Severe 1% and Critical 1%. Only 12% of patients appeared ill on assessment. Interestingly only 4% of patients had Oxygen saturations <94%. Only 38% of children needed admission for severity of illness. There were no deaths. The supplementary appendix includes a huge amount of detailed analysis of the cases, which are summarised below

Clinical features: Fever 54%, Cough 44%, Feeding difficulty 23%, Sore throat 4%, Rhinorrhoea 22%, Diarrhoea 9%, vomiting 10%.

Bloods: Largely unremarkable (although reports of lymphopenia unclear – state 14 patients lymphopenic but that this is 28%? – perhaps only 50 children had bloods, but this is not reported). Procalcitonin <0.5ng/L in 29/23 patients.

Radiology: Chest x-rays performed for 35 children, of which 14/35 had interstitial abnormalities, 6/35 consolidation and 1/35 pleural effusion: remaining 15/35 normal.

Comorbidities: There were 27/100 children with comorbidities – although it appears most had mild illness (did not require respiratory support). This included 6 with cystic fibrosis, 4 neurological, 4 haematological, 4 with a syndrome, 3 with prematurity, 2 with cardiac conditions, 2 immunological, 2 oncological and 1 metabolic disease.

Of the few patients who required respiratory support (9/100) a significant number had comorbidities (6/9), although the rage was broad. This included 2 children with “epileptic encephalopathy”, one of whom also had CHARGE syndrome, a child with autism, a child with a VSD, a child with propionic acidemia, and a child with thrombocytopenia and frequent respiratory infections.

One of the strengths of this study is comparisons across other studies of clinical features of COVID-19 in children. In comparison to Dong et al, CDC data and Lu et al, most features are broadly comparable. Some notable differences are a significantly larger number of infants in the Italian data (40% <1yr compared to 18% in Lu, 12% in Dong and 15.5% in CDC) and a slightly higher number of asymptomatic children (21% compared to 16% Lu, 13% Dong and 1.3% CDC). This most likely represents differences in which population cohorts presented for testing among the different studies – comparisons between cohorts is always difficult currently due to broad differences in the demoninators used. Notably there is no apparent difference in severity according to age in this Italian data, whereas CDC noted increased hospitalisation in children <1yr and Don’t et al noted higher rates of severe or critical illness in infants <1yr.

Broadly speaking this study confirms findings from China and the USA regarding significantly milder illness in children than adults with COVID-19, including many asymptomatic children. Note is made of overrepresentation of children with comorbidities in this cohort (similar to CDC data), although most of these still had mild illness – it is unclear if these children become more unwell, or are more likely to present to be tested.

DeBiasi RL, Song X, Delaney M, Bell M, Smith K, Pershad J, et al. Severe COVID-19 in Children and Young Adults in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Region. The Journal of Pediatrics.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.05.007

This is retrospective cohort study, describing 177 children and young adults with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection treated between March 15 and April 30 2020 at Children’s National Hospital, Washington DC US. Children and young adults were detected through symptomatic presentation at emergency departments, ambulatory clinics, inpatient units, or by referral for admission from external facilities. Of 177 patients, 44 (25%) were hospitalised, with 9 (5%) classified as critically ill. The aim of the study was to identify if any specific epidemiological or clinical features associated with hospitalisation, or critical care.  

Of note this hospital served as a regional centre for providing critical care for young adults aged 21 – 35 years, therefore not all patients would be termed “paediatric patients”. Overall patient age range was from 0.1 – 34.2 years, with a median of 9.6years. Of the total group 12/177 were > 20 years of age, and 37/177 were between age of 15 – 20years. 

Age: There was no significant difference in age between the hospitalised and non-hospitalised patients, however in the hospitalised cohort, the critically unwell group were significantly older than the non-critically unwell hospitalised group (17.3 years versus 3.6 years; P =.04) 

Sex: There was equal representation in total cohort showed (n = 177 52% male, 48% female), as well as the hospitalised cohort (n=44 50% male, 50% female). However males made up 67% of the critically ill cohort (n =9, 67% male, 33% female); but this was not statistically significant (p=0.26)

Race/ethnicity: data not provided, authors describe plans to do so in follow up analysis 

Underlying conditions: 39% of positive patients had an underlying condition (classified as asthma, diabetes, neurological, obesity, cardiac, haematological, oncological). Though asthma was the most common underlying condition (35/177 20%), it was not more common in hospitalised patients (7/44 16%), nor of those admitted, those who were critically unwell (2/9, 22%). Though the numbers where small, specific underlying conditions such as neurological, cardiac, haematological, or oncological underlying conditions were more common in the hospitalised cohort than the non hospitalised cohort. But were not more common in the hospitalised critically ill compared with the hospitalised non critically ill. The authors noted there was no underlying condition present in 96/177 (55%) of overall SARS-CoV-2 infected patients overall, 16/44 (37%) of hospitalized patients and in 2/9 (22%) of critically ill patients.

Symptoms:  76% of infected patients presented with respiratory symptoms (rhinorrhea, congestion, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath) with or without fever. Fever was present in 116/177 (66%) but was not more common in the infected hospitalized cohort (34/44, 77%) compared with the non-hospitalized cohort (82/133, 62%; p=0.46). 

Shortness of breath was more common in the hospitalized cohort (11/44, 26%) compared with non-hospitalized (16/133, 12%; p=0.04). Patients in the critically ill cohort were not more likely to have fever or any other specific symptom compared with the non-critically ill cohort.

Critical Care: 9 patients required critical care; which represented 5% (9/177) of total cohort and 20% (9/44) of admitted patients. 4 required intubation (3 ARDS, 2 multiple organ failure); 3 required BiPAP, 1 RAM cannula and 1 High flow nasal cannula. One patient had features consistent with the recently emerged Kawasaki disease-like presentation with hyper-inflammatory state, hypotension and profound myocardial depression; a 4 year male with no underlying conditions. 

Summary:  A very clear description of 177 patients with Sars CoV 2, in one large centre in Washington DC. 25% of patients needed hospitalisation and 5 % needed critical care. Older teenagers and adults who required admission, were then overrepresented in requiring critical care. Though underlying conditions were more common in hospitalised patients, they were not significantly more common in the hospitalised patients who required critical care. Shortness of breath was the only symptom that was more common in hospitalised patients than non-hospitalised patients. No specific symptom was more apparent in patients needing critical care. One critically ill patient had features of recently described hyperinflammatory state. 

de Lusignan, S., J. Dorward, A. Correa, N et al, (2020). “Risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 among patients in the Oxford Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre primary care network: a cross-sectional study.” Lancet Infect Dis. May 15th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30371-6

This study examines the demographic and clinical risk factors for testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 amongst patients within a large primary care network in the UK. This included tests done through Public Health England and the UK National Health Service (NHS) between January 28th and April 4th 2020 with clinical and sociodemographic data extracted from patients’ primary care medical records.

Overall 587 of 3802 patient tests returned a positive result for SARS-CoV-2. Of children 4.6% (23/499) tested positive compared with 17.1% (564/3303) of adults.

In multivariate logistic regression, adults had significantly higher odds of a positive test compared with children; those aged 40-64 (aOR 5.36, 95% CI 3.28-8.76) and >75 (aOR 5.23, 95% CI 3.00-9.09) were at highest risk.
Male sex (aOR 1.55, 95% CI 1.27-1.89), social deprivation (aOR 2.03, 95% CI 1.51-2.71) and black ethnicity (aOR 4.75, 95% CI 2.65-8.51) were also associated with an increased risk of a positive SARS-CoV -2 test. Of clinical factors, only chronic kidney disease (aOR 1.91, 95% CI 1.31-2.78) and obesity (aOR 1.41, 95% CI 1.04-1.91) were significantly associated with testing positive. Surprisingly active smoking was associated with lower odds of a positive test (aOR 0.49, 95% CI 0.34-0.71) possibly due to presentation confounding (i.e. presence of cough in chronic smokers prompting increased testing in this group).


This is the first study to utilise primary care data to assess risk factors for testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the community. The risk factors identified are similar to those associated with severe COVID-19 in hospitalised patients including increased age, male sex and obesity. The higher odds of a positive test in adults compared with children here are consistent with other studies suggesting children are at lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with adults.

Parri, N., A. M. Magistà, F. Marchetti, et al, (2020). “Characteristic of COVID-19 infection in pediatric patients: early findings from two Italian Pediatric Research Networks.” Eur J Pediatr: 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00431-020-03683-8

This study is published as a short communication describing the clinical presentations and outcomes in children with identified Covid-19 in 61 centres in Italy between 3rd and 26 March 2020.

Study Design: A retrospective study coordinated by the CONFIDENCE and COVID-19 Italian Paediatric Study Network’s involving 53(86.9%) hospitals and 8(13.1%) outpatient centres in 10 mainly northern regions. All children (0-18 years) diagnosed positive on screening and testing for Covid-19 by nasal/nasopharyngeal RT-PCR assay were entered into the study. Clinical, laboratory and imaging data was collected on standardised forms. 

Study Population: 130 children and adolescents recruited (112 hospital;18 outpatient). <2 years 41 (31.5%), 2-9 years 35 (26.9%)’10-17 years 45 (34.6%). Male 73 (56.2%). Female 57(43.8%) p=0.47.

Comorbidities 34 (26.2%) most frequent cardiovascular, respiratory and neuromuscular. No information on ethnicity. One patients data unobtainable.

Disease Severity: The majority of subjects were categorised as being asymptomatic or having mild disease 98/130 (75.4%). 11 (8.5%) were moderate severity, 11 severe and 9 (6.9%).critical. 75 (57.7%)were hospitalised  with 15.(11,5%) needing respiratory support (5 needing oxygen, 2 non invasive ventilation and 2 mechanical ventilation). 9 cases were admitted to ICU with 6 being less than 6 months. 3 of the latter were less than 2 months and did not require respiratory support. Children less than 6 months had an increased risk of critical disease than older children: 6/35 (17.1%) vs 3/86 (3.5%) p=0.34. OR 5.6 CI 1.3 to 29.1.

Symptoms: Common symptoms were fever 67(51.5%), dry cough 38(29.2%) and productive cough 16(12.3%). Other symptoms were rhinorrhoea25(19.2%), respiratory distress 17(13%), vomiting 15(11.5%);diarrhoea 10(7.6%); sore throat 9(6.9%). Thoracic pains (3%), somnolence, febrile convulsions (1.5%) and lower limb pains (1.5%) were reported as novel symptoms.

Oxygen saturation at presentation:  91-92% 1(0.8%). <90 1(0.8)

 Radiology: 41 (31.5%) of children had CXRs. These were normal in 15 (36.6%). The commonest abnormalities were ground-glass opacities in 17 (41.5%). Focal consolidation was seen in 4 (9.8%).

Laboratory:  71 children were reported to have had laboratory tests. The authors report leukopenia (WCC %<5.5×109) and lymphopenia (<1.2×109) in 7/19 patients and 3/19 patients, respectively. They report elevation in aspartate transaminase >50U/l in 11/60 (18.3%) and alanine tranasaminase >45U/l in 8/68 (11.8%).

Outcomes: There were no deaths and all children were reported to have recovered.

Comment: The study obtained data on all but one child found Covid-19 positive in this largely hospital based population. The authors acknowledge that there is a bias toward more ill patients with their population than community studies and this may explain the 57.7% admission rate. Also this is reflected in the amount of comorbidity. However, the majority of patients were either asymptomatic or had mild disease and small numbers required respiratory support or ITU. The authors identify the increased likelihood of critical disease in those less than 6 months and their being the majority of ICU cases. They also comment on new presenting symptoms (thoracic pain, somnolence, febrile convulsions and lower limb pains).

de Ceano-Vivas M, Martín-Espín I, del Rosal T, et al. SARS-CoV-2 infection in ambulatory and hospitalised Spanish children, Arch Dis Child, doi:10.1136 / archdischild-2020-319366 

Study design: A retrospective case series of all children seen at a tertiary centre, who were found to have positive PCR for SARS-CoV-2.  Testing for SARS-CoV-2 was only conducted in those children who had respiratory symptoms and “criteria for hospitalisation” or who had “underlying chronic pathology”. Children with mild symptoms were not tested even if there was a confirmed case in the household. Comparisons were made between the characteristics of those admitted to hospital and those treated as outpatients. The study was conducted between March 11th and April 9th 2020 at Hospital La Paz, Madrid, Spain.

Inclusion criteria: All children who underwent PCR for SARS-CoV-2 in nasopharyngeal smear, N=349.  Of whom 58 (16.6%) had a positive PCR and were the cases analysed.

Key findings: Of the 58 cases: Male 37 (63.8%), Median age 35.5 months (range 3.3-146), Underlying conditions 23 (39.7%), Temperature >39.7degC 41 (70.7%), Cough 42 (72.4%), Rhinorrhoea 33 (56.9%), Breathing difficulty 10 (17.2%), Vomiting 9 (15.5%), Headache 8 (13.8%), Loss of taste 1 (1.7%), Anosmia 1 (1.7%). 

Radiology: 40 (69%) had a CXR of which 35 (87.5%) were abnormal: Perihilar infiltrates, ground-glass pattern, lobar or multilobar consolidation. 

Bloods: 43 (74.1%) had a blood test, median WCC 9145/mm3, median lymphocyte count 2390/mm3. 

Outcomes: 33 were hospitalised and 25 were treated as outpatients. Of the inpatients, 14 (42.4%) received oxygen therapy for a median of 3 days. 5 were admitted to the PICU (15% of those hospitalised): 3 with severe COVID-19, 1 with a hypertensive crisis and 1 with diabetic ketoacidosis.  31 (53.4%) were treated with hydroxychloroquine, 3 patients were treated with remdesivir. 2 patients with an inflammatory syndrome were also treated with tocilizumab. There was 1 death of a 5/12 old infant with dilated cardiomyopathy and Hurler’s syndrome. The comparisons between the inpatient and outpatient group provide almost no additional useful information.

Comment: As the authors concede, the retrospective nature of the study is a significant weakness. Patients were selected for testing on the basis of symptoms and/or underlying conditions and many other children who could have been infected were never tested. The study is useful in describing the range of symptoms, treatment and outcome in the large selected group of children who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. It does not, however, add anything new to what is already known about the condition in children.

Chen C. Coronavirus Disease-19 Among Children outside Wuhan, China [Internet]. Lancet Child and Adolescent medicine; Available from: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3546071

A pre-print, the information should be treated with caution until it has undergone peer review. This is a prospective case series of 31 paediatric cases of COVID-19 diagnosed at the Shenzen Third Peoples hospital between Jan 16th and Feb 19th 2020. This made up 7.9% of all cases diagnosed in Shenzen. They were all confirmed by PCR. None had been exposed to the seafood market in Wuhan. The patients received nebulised interferon and, IV ribavirin or oral lopinovir/ritonavir. The median age was 6.75, with most patients (41.9%) aged 5-9. Followed by 0-4yrs (32.2%) and 10-14yrs (19.4%). 41.9% were male.

Clinical features: 12/31 Children were asymptomatic. Fever was observed in 14/31, Cough in 13/41, Sore throat in 2/31, Rhinorrhoea in 22/31 and diarrhoea in 2/31. Median duration of fever was 2 days, with a range of  1–9 days. Bloods: Lymphopaenia was not observed. Lymphocytosis occurred in 17/31 patients. CRP was elevated in 4/31 patients. Radiology: On admission 64.5% of CT were normal, with 25% having unilateral pneumonia and 9.7% having bilateral. During hospitalization one child developed a unilateral pneumonia whose radiography was initially normal. Outcome: 23 children had been discharged at the time of writing, and the remainder were well and afebrile.

Garazzino S, Montagnani C, Dona D, et al. Multicentre Italian study of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children and adolescents, preliminary data as at 10 April 2020. Euro surveillance : bulletin Europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin 2020; 25(18). https://dx.doi.org/10.2807%2F1560-7917.ES.2020.25.18.2000600

This rapid communication reports the preliminary results of an Italian multicentre study involving 11 of 13 exclusively paediatric hospitals and 51 of 390 paediatric units across Italy (mainly in central and northern Italy).  Retrospective data collection began on 25 March 2020.

Study design:  Data to 10 April 2020 collected by participating physicians and hospitals for all paediatric patients (aged 1 day to 17 years) with at least one RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 positive nasal/pharyngeal swab AND adequate follow-up considered necessary by the clinician to define the final outcome (usually 2 wks).

Findings:  Data collected for 168 children and adolescents with documented COVID-19: 

Gender:  94/168 male (55.9%) and 74/168 female (44.1%)

Age:  median 2.3 yrs (IQR 0.3-9.6 yrs, range 1 day-17.7 yrs, mean 5 yrs.  <1 yr:  66/168 (39.3%), of which 15/168 neonates (6.9%). 1-5 yrs:  38/168 (22.6%). 6-10 yrs:  24/168 (14.3%). 11-17 yrs:  40/168 (23.8%)

Hospitalised: 110/168 (65.1%): <1 yr:  52/66 (78.8%). 1-5 yrs:  24/38 (63.2%). 6-10 yrs:  13/24 (54.2%). 11-17 yrs:  21/40 (52.5%)

Comorbidities:  33/168 (19.6%):  chronic lung disease 7, congenital malformations or complex genetic syndromes 14, cancer 4, epilepsy 5, gastrointestinal disorders 2, metabolic disorders 1, immunosuppression 4, immunocompromise 3.  The hospitalisation rate was similar between children with comorbidities (23/33, 70%) and those without (87/135, 64%).

Source of infection:  Close contact with a COVID-19 infected person outside the family was rarely reported.  113/168 (67.3%) of children had at least one parent who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection.  Symptom onset in relatives preceded symptoms in the infected child by 1 to 14 days in 88/113 (77.8%).

Symptoms:  4/168 (2.4%) asymptomatic. Fever (37.5 to 39°C) 138/168 (82.1%), cough 82/168 (48.8%), rhinitis 45/168 (26.8%), diarrhoea 22/168 (13.1%), dyspnoea 16/168 (9.5%), pharyngitis 9/168 (5.4%), vomiting 9/168 (5.4%), conjunctivitis 6/168 (3.6%), chest pain 4/168 (2.4%), fatigue 3/168 (1.8%), non-febrile seizures 3/168 (1.8%, all 3 had a known history of epilepsy), febrile seizures 2/168 (1.2%, 1 with a history of febrile seizures and 1 with first episode of febrile seizures as onset of COVID-19).

Blood results:  Of the children who had blood tests, 47/121 (38.8%) had CRP > 0.5 mg/dl.  Other abnormal findings were rare.

Complications:  33/168 (19.6%) developed complications: interstitial pneumonia 26/168 (15.5%), severe acute respiratory illness 14/168 (8.3%),  peripheral vasculitis 1/168 (0.6%)

No child underwent a chest CT scan; pneumonia was assessed using X-ray or ultrasound in 75/168.  

Co-infection:  Documented in 10/168 (5.9%), including 3 RSV, 3 rhinovirus, 2 EBV, 1 influenza A, 1 non-SARS coronavirus infection, 1 Strep pneumoniae.

Treatment:  16/168 (9.5%) required non-invasive oxygen treatment.  2 were admitted to ICU for mechanical ventilation (1 preterm neonate and a 2-month-old with congenital heart disease).  49/168 (29.2%) children (those with more severe illness) received experimental SARS-CoV-2 treatments, including lopinavir/ritonavir, hydroxychloroquine and/or azithromycin/clarithromycin, systemic steroids.

All children, including those with comorbidities, recovered fully and there were no sequelae reported at the time of submission.  This paediatric data is in contrast to the high number of cases and case-fatality rate seen in adults in Italy.  Children comprised a marginal percentage of those hospitalised in Italy with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Zhang C, Gu J, Chen Q, et al. Clinical Characteristics of 34 Children with Coronavirus Disease-2019 in the West of China: a Multiple-center Case Series. doi:10.1101/2020.03.12.20034686

A pre-print, the information should be treated with caution until it has undergone peer review.

This is a further retrospective case study looking at 34 children with confirmed COVID-19 between Jan 1st and Feb 25th 2020 in 4 hospitals in Western China. They were aged 1 month to 12 years.

Clinical features: The most common symptom was fever (26/34) followed by cough (20/34), followed by vomiting (4/34) and diarrhoea (4/34). A significant number had co-infections (16/34) including Mycoplasma pneumoniae (9/34), influenza A or B (12/34) and 2/34 were mononucleosis. One child had a nephroblastoma and one had asthma. The median incubation period was 10 days (IQR 7.75 – 25.25) and median 3 days (IQ 2 – 4) from admission to fever resolution

Bloods: Lymphocytosis was most common (17/34). CRP was not significantly elevated (median 7.56ml/L, IQR 1.21 – 15.13), but was >5 for 20/34, and procalcitonin was not significantly elevated either (0.6, 0.03 – 0.07)

Radiography: On chest CT 14/34 had patchy shadows bilaterally, 14/34 unilaterally, and 6 had normal CT chest.

Qiu, Haiyan et al, Clinical and epidemiological features of 36 children with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Zhejiang, China: an observational cohort study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 0, Issue 0 DOI:https:// doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30198-5

Qui and colleagues retrospectively identified 36 children with an EMR diagnosis of COVID-19, during the period Jan 17 through March 1st, at three hospitals in Zhejiang, China, a province 900km to the east of Wuhan. Diagnosis was made by COVID-19 RT PCR for all patients presenting with fever, cough and radiographic presentation, or if there was a history of exposure to an infected individual.

For the mild cohort, 28% of patients were asymptomatic, with moderate cases more likely to have fever of 38oC or higher (47%), cough (24%), vomiting or diarrhoea (10%) or headache (10%). More than half (53%) of patients had ground-glass opacities on CT scan, meeting the case definition for Moderate illness. Key laboratory values of note include lymphopaenia, leukocytopaenia and increased procalcitonin as all associated with moderate illness. No patients in this cohort were hypoxaemic as a result of their pneumonia.

The authors also draw comparisons between adults and children with COVID-19 (less severe illness, less likely to have abnormal investigations), as well as comparing the clinical features and severity of COVID-19 with SARS (milder symptoms and severity) and H1N1 influenza (fewer symptoms, more frequent pneumonia) in children. Wisely, Qui & colleagues note the high rate of findings that are not clinically obvious, and the high proportion of asymptomatic cases make for very challenging case identification in the absence of clear epidemiologic information. “This finding suggests a dangerous situation if community-acquired infections occur.”

Zheng F, Liao C, Fan Q-H, et al. Clinical Characteristics of Children with Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Hubei, China. Curr Med Sci 2020;:1–6. doi:10.1007/ s11596-020-2172-6

This is a retrospective case series of 25 children <14 years of age hospitalised with COVID-19 from 10 hospitals across the Hubei province between February 1st and February 10th 2020. It is unclear how the cases were ascertained. 14/25 were male (54%) and the median age was 3yrs (IQR 2-9yrs). Most patients were <3 years (40%). 2 patients had a background of repaired congenital heart disease (both infants), although we have no more detail than this. Both of these children went on to develop critical illness.

Clinical features: 13/25 (52%) had fever, 11/25 (44%) had cough, 3/25 (12%) had diarrhoea, and 2/25 (8%) had nasal congestion, vomiting, breathlessness or abdominal pain. 

Bloods: Inflammatory markers were not particularly raised, with a median CRP of 14.5mg/L (IQR 0.93 – 25). 10/25 (40%) patients had lymphopenia.

Radiology: CT chest was normal in 8/24 (32%) with unilateral involvement in 5/24 (20%) and bilateral in 12/24 (48%). Changes typically showed patchy shadows. Younger children appeared more likely to have bilateral lung findings than older children. 

Co-infection: Other organisms identified included Mycoplasma pneumoniae (3/25, 12%), Influenza B (2/25, 8%) and one of the 2 critically ill children had Enterobacter aerogenes.

PICU Clinical Papers

González-Dambrauskas S, Vásquez-Hoyos P, Camporesi A, et al. Pediatric critical care and COVID19. Pediatrics. 2020; doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-1766

In preprint, González-Dambrauskas et al describe 17 children with COVID-19 admitted to international PICUs in Chile, Colombia, Italy, Spain and USA, in April 2020. These are interim results from the CAKE (Critical Coronavirus And Kids Epidemiologic) Study, recruiting between April and December 2020 from almost 60 PICUS in 20 countries. As well as describing the clinical details of each child in detail, this paper also describes four children with myocarditis associated with covid-19.

The 17 children predominantly presented with cough and fever (53% had cough, 76% had fever). Comorbidities were common in 71% of children, including underlying respiratory, cardiac, renal, liver or neurological disorders. Six children (35%) had gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms at presentation. 

Of the four children with myocarditis, all were based in Europe, none had previous cardiac disease, and all presented with fever and GI symptoms. One also had a rash and conjunctivitis. These children all developed myocarditis early in their clinical picture, with average duration of symptoms prior to presentation of 3.5 days. All four children received IVIG. Three of these children also required inotropic support; one child also developed ARDS and acute kidney in addition to myocarditis, requiring non-invasive ventilation but not renal replacement therapy. None of the four children with myocarditis required mechanical ventilation. All four children survived to discharge home, with a mean hospital length of stay of 13.5 days.

González Cortés, R., García-Salido, A., Roca Pascual, D. et al. A multicenter national survey of children with SARS-CoV-2 infection admitted to Spanish Pediatric Intensive Care Units. Intensive Care Med (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-020-06146-8

The Spanish Paediatric Intensive Care Society have published their findings of 50 children admitted to 47 PICUs in Spain between 1st March 2020 and 1st May 2020 with SARS-CoV-2. More than 90% of PICUs in Spain were represented in this national database. During the study period there were no deaths from SARS-CoV-2 in children admitted to PICU in the participating PICUs.

The authors divided the children into two groups: those requiring ventilation and those not requiring ventilation, to assess for different characteristics between these groups. Fourteen (28%) of the children were ventilated.  Twenty-seven (54%) of the 50 children in the study had suspected PIMS-TS; these children were less likely to require mechanical ventilation (4 of the 27 required ventilation) than those without PIMS-TS. Statistical significance between the two groups was found for age (median age of 2.8 years in the ventilated group, compared to 8.6 years in the non-ventilated group); co-morbidities (12, 24%, of the 50 children had comorbidities; 8 of these were ventilated); and clinical presentation with respiratory difficulties or an ARDS-type picture.

Overall, of the 50 children, 23 (46%) had haemodynamic instability, 20 (40%) had respiratory difficulties and 1 (2%) had neurological symptoms. Shock was present in half of the children (25, 50%), renal failure in 8 (15%) and cardiac dysfunction in 17 (34%). 

Across the 50 children, white cell count (median 9.26, IQR 5.64-14.46), lymphocytes (median 1.02, IQR 0.42-2.59) and CRP (median 13.9, IQR 4.9-27) were not statistically different between ventilated and non-ventilated children.

These are the preliminary findings from this national registry of children with SARS-CoV-2 admitted to PICU in Spain. Further results and analysis will provide more information regarding critically unwell children with COVID-19.

Grasselli, G et al. Baseline Characteristics and Outcomes of 1591 Patients Infected With SARS-CoV-2 Admitted to ICUs of the Lombardy Region, Italy. JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.5394 Published online April 6, 2020.

This is a retrospective case series of 1591 consecutive patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 referred for ICU admission to the regional ICU coordinator of the Lombardy ICU Network, and treated at one of the ICUs of the 72 hospitals in the network. Patients were recruited between 20/02/2020 and 18/03/2020 with follow-up on 25/03/2020. Data was collected via telephone. Of the nearly 1600 patients referred for ICU admission, only 4 were between 0 and 20 years of age, with a median age of 16 and interquartile range of 14 to 19 years of age. Three of the four patients (75%) were male and three of the four had comorbidities (specific details not given).

Two required mechanical ventilation. It’s important to note that the patients in this study were those admitted to ICU and not patients on medical wards, in the ED or in the community so the high percentage of ventilated patients in this study is not a reflection of the other patients in the region with SARS-CoV-2. These two patients had relatively low oxygen requirements with an FiO2 of 30% and 50%; relatively low PEEPs of 5 and 14 mmHg; and favourable PaO2/FiO2 ratios of 195 and 323, placing these two patients in the mild to moderate ARDS severity scores (for more information on PaO2/FiO2 ratios have a look at the LITFL explanation at https://litfl. com/pao2-fio2-ratio/). None of the four patients in the 0-20 year old category received ECMO. Information on disposition was only available for two of the four patients. None of these patients died. Two remained on ICU on 25/03/2020 at time of follow-up.

What can we take from this study? As the study recruited patients admitted to ICU, the numbers of adolescent patients in this case series is low at only four, with an age range of 16 to 19. The data was collected retrospectively via telephone making it difficult to draw robust conclusions. However, we can see that compared to the older groups of patients in the study, ventilation requirements were lower. Three of the four adolescent patients had comorbidities, which might suggest that children and adolescents without comorbidities in the Lombardy region were less severely unwell and did not require ICU admission.

Oualha, M., M. Bendavid, L. Berteloot, et al.  “Severe and fatal forms of COVID-19 in children.” Archives de Pediatrie, June 4th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arcped.2020.05.010

This paper describes the clinical presentation and course of the 27 children and young people with COVID who required paediatric intensive care in and around Paris  at the height of the coronavirus peak in France. The total population of all ages of the Ile de France , the region for which this centre is responsible for tertiary paediatric referrals, is around 12 million. During the time covered by the study, there were around 5000 COVID deaths in France, with the Ile de France region being the hardest hit.

This study focuses on 27 children unwell enough to need high dependency care during active COVID infection. The criteria for admission were oxygen requirement > 1L/min or underlying disease. The cohort of 27 were admitted within days of onset of first symptoms and 24 were positive for COVID-19 by PCR of nasal swabs. This is consistent with active virus, rather than PIMS-TS, the Kawasaki like post-COVID syndrome.

 24 had respiratory disease, mostly with radiological or CT findings consistent with COVID.  6 had cardiovascular disease and 4 renal problems.  

9 required invasive ventilation with median duration 5 days.  10 received non-invasive ventilation and 23 were treated with oxygen. 4 received catecholamines, one ECMO and one renal replacement therapy.  The median length of hospital stay was 6 days.

Mean laboratory findings in the group were of elevated CRP, procalcitonin, fibrinogen and D-dimers, consistent with an inflammatory and prothrombotic state.  Neutrophil and lymphocyte counts were normal. T cell subsets and cytokine levels were not measured.

70% had underlying conditions, but the spectrum was different from adult experience, with neurological and respiratory problems or sickle cell disease being most common.

Three of the five who died had previously been in good health. A teenage girl whose clinical course was suggestive of the cytokine storm seen in adults died within hours of admission. A teenage boy and a 6 year old girl co-infected with other pathogens both died after long PICU stays. 

This description confirms that severe illness is rare in children with COVID and shows that even those admitted for HDU care had a shorter illness and better prognosis than that seen in adults. Nonetheless, occasional children do suffer a prolonged illness with multi-organ dysfunction.

Lanyon, N., P. du Pré, T. Thiruchelvam, S. Ray, M. Johnson and M. J. Peters (2020). “Critical paediatric COVID-19: varied presentations but good outcomes.” Arch Dis Child. https://dx.doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2020-319602

In this letter from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, 24 children, who tested positive for Covid-19, were admitted to the intensive care unit between 26th March 2020 and 31st May 2020. Thirteen of these had PIMS-TS. This letter describes the clinical features of the remaining 11.

These 11 had a median age of 5 years (range 0.4-11), 9 were boys, 9 had pre-existing medical conditions, and 4 came from the BAME community. The primary presenting feature was cough 6, apnoea 3, fever 10, gastrointestinal 6 and seizures 3

In all 11 inflammatory markers were raised, median ferritin 898 (range 254-1991), CRP 158 (27-449), LDH 1594 (802-4264) D-Dimer 158 (27-449). 4 children fulfilled the criteria for paediatric acute respiratory distress syndrome, the remaining 7 were admitted to PICU for other reason than respiratory failure. A variety of different forms of respiratory support were provided, invasive mechanical ventilation 9, prone position 4, inhaled pulmonary vasodilators 4, HFOV 2 and ECMO none. 5 children received remdesivir and 6 prophylactic anticoagulation.

All 11 children survived to hospital discharge. The authors conclude “While children can present to PICU with a pattern of illness similar to adult COVID-19 disease this is rare and three quarters of them had risk factors for respiratory infection. A larger number were found to be SARS-COV-2 coincidentally.”

Clinical Dermatology COVID-19

Colmenero, I., C. Santonja, M. Alonso-Riano, et al. “SARS-CoV-2 endothelial infection causes COVID-19 chilblains: histopathological, immunohistochemical and ultraestructural study of 7 paediatric cases.” The British journal of dermatology. June 20th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1111/bjd.19327

Anecdotally, chilblains seem to be associated with Covid-19 in children and young adults. This case series from Madrid describes 7 children (age 11-17) presenting with chilblains on their toes during the pandemic. None had underlying conditions likely to cause chilblains, and in Spain, cold weather wasn’t responsible. The chilblains looked typical, caused only minor pain and itching, and all resolved spontaneously. All had skin biopsies, which showed a variety of inflammatory and vasculitic changes on histology, typical of chilblains: they also looked specifically for SARS-CoV-2 particles in the endothelium of the dermal vessels using immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy and found the virus in all of them.

What is remarkable is that all the children were systemically well, had either mild or no respiratory symptoms; and of the 6 that had nasal and pharyngeal swabs, all were negative for SARS-CoV-2 PCR. Only 4/7 had Covid-19 positive household contacts.

The implication is that children can harbour demonstrably invasive coronavirus with minimal symptoms and negative swabs. This has epidemiological as well as clinical significance. 

In conclusion, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the endothelium of dermal vessels in skin biopsies of children and adolescents with acute chilblains confirms that these lesions are a manifestation of COVID-19.  Their clinical and histopathological features are similar to those of chilblains of other aetiologies, and virus-induced vascular damage could explain their pathophysiology.  Our findings support the hypothesis that widespread endothelial infection by SARS-CoV-2 could have a role in the pathogenesis of severe forms of the disease. More studies are needed to understand the reasons why previously healthy children, adolescents and young adults present

Locatelli AG, Robustelli Test E, Vezzoli P, Carugno A, Moggio E, Consonni L, Gianatti A, Sena P. Histologic features of long-lasting chilblain‐like lesions in a pediatric COVID‐19 patient. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.09 May 2020.  doi: 10.1111/jdv.16617. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jdv.16617

This retrospective single case report describes clinical and pathological signs of chilblain-like lesions whilst the patient was asymptomatic. He did not have any signs of autoimmune conditions including on histological examination. The lesions persisted for several weeks whilst he remained positive for SARS-CoV-2 on nasopharyngeal swab. The authors highlight young people with this sign could be carriers of the virus.

A 16-year-old male patient attended Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital, Italy. His nasopharyngeal swab was positive for SARS-CoV-2. His mother was admitted to hospital for SARS-CoV-2 management following his presentation. 

Clinical features: Diarrhoea and dysgeusia were experienced 3 days prior to the onset of skin lesions described as “multiple asymptomatic erythematous oedematous partially eroded macules and plaques on dorsal aspects of the fingers”. A lesion was also noted on second toe. 

Radiology: None discussed. 

Bloods: “Routine bloods autoimmunity, cryoglobulins, viral serologies all negative or within normal limits”

Treatments: None 

Outcomes: Was treated on a hospital ward without supplemental oxygen until discharge.  

Other features of interest: Histopathological examination demonstrated oedema of the papillary dermis, superficial and deep lymphocytic infiltrate in the perivascular and strong peri-eccrine pattern. Images are provided.  

Recalcati, S., T. Barbagallo, L. A. Frasin, F. Prestinari, A. Cogliardi, M. C. Provero, E. Dainese, A. Vanzati and F. Fantini (2020). “Acral cutaneous lesions in the Time of COVID-19.” J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol.

This pre-print Letter to the Editor reports on a series of unusual dermatological manifestations presenting to the Dermatologic Unit in Alessandro Manzoni Hospital, Italy in March and April 2020. The authors observed 14 cases, of which 11 were children with a mean age of 14.4 years and a range of 13-18 years. Of the 14 cases, 6 (43%) were male. 3 pairs of cases were siblings.

None of the cases had systemic symptoms (other than mild itch in 3 cases), there was no association with cold exposure, co-morbidities or drug intake, and there was no family history of COVID-19 related symptoms. 3 cases reported cough and fever 3 weeks prior to the onset of the lesions.

The authors believe that these dermatological findings are related to COVID-19 due to the rapid outbreak and clustering of these unusual skin lesions occurring at the same time as the COVID-19 outbreak. In support of this they report multiple similar cases being described from other areas affected by the pandemic. They hypothesise that the skin lesions may represent late manifestations of COVID-19 infection in young, healthy subjects, possibly due to an immunologic response targeting the cutaneous vessels. They accept that this hypothesis cannot be tested until a reliable serological test for antibody response to COVID-19 has been developed.

Clinical features: Acral eruption of erythemato-violaceous papules and macules, with possible bullous evolution or digital swelling. Lesions were found on the feet in 8 cases, hands in 4 cases, and on both sites in 2 cases. 2 children developed erythemato-papular targetoid lesions on the hands and elbows after a few days.

Histology: Lesions on fingers showed diffuse dense lymphoid infiltrate of the superficial and deep dermis, with a prevalent perivascular pattern and signs of endothelial activation. Targetoid lesions on elbows showed mild superficial perivascular dermatitis.

Bloods: Normal FBC, CRP, LDH and D-dimer. Serology was negative for EBV, CMV, Coxsackie and Parvovirus B19.

Outcomes: In all cases the lesions resolved without treatment after 2-4 weeks.

It is worth noting that this study is limited both by the small number of cases, but more particularly by the lack of evidence linking these skin lesions with a proven COVID-19 infection.

Piccolo, V., I. Neri, C. Filippeschi, T et al (2020). “Chilblain-like lesions during COVID-19 epidemic: a preliminary study on 63 patients.” J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol published online 24th April 2020 https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.16526

This is a report of chilblain like lesions observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, collected through a survey issued to Italian dermatologists and Paediatricians. This is a preliminary report as data collection still ongoing. 

Importantly – very few patients in this cohort were tested for COVID-19 (11/63) and only 2 of these patients were positive. It is therefore difficult to extrapolate these findings to paediatric COVID-19 specifically, but is worth being aware of. 

63 patients have been reported on with a median age of 14 years (IQR 12 – 16yrs) with feet alone being bar far the most commonly affected area (85/7%) followed by feet and hands together (7%). In uploaded pictures from 54 patients, erythematous-oedematous lesions were most common (31/54) followed by blistering lesions (23/54) and pain and itch were common, although a quarter of lesions were “asymptomatic”. Median time of onset of rash to diagnosis was 10 days. The lesions were generally stable and no other cutaneous signs observed. GI symptoms were the most common co-existing (11.1%) with surprisingly low levels of respiratory symptoms (7.9%).

This is basically a description of a common skin manifestation which coincided with COVID-19, and looked like it could be infectious in origin. Few patients tested, and even fewer positive. An interesting series worth bearing in mind given increasing reports of skin manifestation of COVID-19.

Radiology Findings COVID-19

Xia W, Shao J, Guo Y, Peng X, Li Z, Hu D. Clinical and CT features in pediatric patients with COVID-19 infection: Different points from adults [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 5]. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2020;10.1002/ppul.24718. doi:10.1002/ppul.24718

A case series of 20 paediatric patients with COVID-19 infection identified with COVID-19 NAT on pharyngeal swabs from Wuhan Children’s Hospital. It reviews the clinical information and co-infections.

Clinical features: two thirds had a clear contact history. Incubation 24hrs28 days of life. 13/20 had a cough, 12/20 had a fever. Bloods: 11/20 had (N) CRP, i.e. less than 3mg/L and 80% had PCT >0.05.

Radiology: On CT: Subpleural findings were seen in all 20 patients. 50% had bilateral findings, with a further 6/20 with unilateral findings. Consolidation with a halo in 50% of cases, considered as atypical signs in paediatric patien. Chloral hydrate was the primary sedative for CTs These were predominantly mild cases in the paediatric patients, with CXR adding little diagnostically. An early chest CT exam seemed to be necessary. 9/20 had coinfection, most commonly with mycoplasma (4/9) – although the ‘flu B,’flu A or RSV accounted for almost all of the remainder

Despite this, the physical chest symptoms were mild, with retraction in one case, and another case with cyanosis.

The average length of stay 12.9 days. Some patients were managed on the basis of their  CT alone. These are similar to those seen in adults.

Görkem, S. B. and B. Çetin (2020). “COVID-19 pneumonia in a Turkish child presenting with abdominal complaints and reversed halo sign on thorax CT.” Diagn Interv Radiol. June 5th 2020, DOI 10.5152/dir.2020.20361 

This is a case report of a 15 year old girl with Covid-19 from Turkey in an Epublished letter ahead of print with an early description of the “reversed halo sign”(RHS) on chest CT scan in. RHS is described  as a central ground glass opacity (due to septal alveolar inflammation) surrounded by denser granulomatous airspace consolidation in the shape of a crescent or ring. It was identified in adult Covid -19 patients in early studies from Wuhan. 

The patient presented with abdominal pain (epigastric tenderness). She had no respiratory symptoms and was apyrexial. Covid-19 was identified on nasopharyngeal swab. WCC 4.01×109, lymphocytes 1.92×109, CRP 1.6 mg/l rising to 10 mg/l after five days. Oxygen saturation remained above 95% in air.

Initial abdominal CT identified bilateral patchy alveolar infiltrates in the lower lobes and so an unenhanced low-dose thorax CT was performed. This identified multi focal RHS lesions within bilateral upper, middle and lower lobes. There were multiple multisegmental peripherally located alveolar infiltrations and scattered ground glass opacities.

The patient received hydroxychloroquine. Interestingly, she did not develop any respiratory symptoms, making an uneventful recovery and was discharged after 8 days.

RHS is a distinctive sign on chest CT. As well as occurring in pneumonia (including community acquired pneumonia) it can also be associated with fungal infections, immunosuppression, pneumocystis, TB, sarcoidosis, pulmonary neoplasms and pulmonary infarction. Therefore it can pose diagnostic challenges and management is guided by the clinical history. Although RHS is recognised in the adult Covid-19 literature this is a first report in a paediatric patient.

Denina, M., C. Scolfaro, E. Silvestro, G. Pruccoli, F. Mignone, M. Zoppo, U. Ramenghi and S. Garazzino (2020). “Lung Ultrasound in Children With COVID-19.” Pediatrics. 21. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2020-1157

Between March 18th and 26th 2020 8 children (age range 3 months to 10 years), 5 of whom were boys were admitted to Regina Margherita Children’s Hospital, Turin with Covid 19 respiratory tract infections. All 8 children had linear array chest ultrasound during routine medical examination. Although the number of patients analysed was small, the high concordance between radiologic and LUS findings suggested that ultrasound may be a reasonable method to detect lung abnormalities in children with COVID-19. The advantage of LUS was that the investigation could be done at the bedside, thus preventing transport of a potential infectious patient through a hospital

Li W, Cui H, Li K, Fang Y, Li S. Chest computed tomography in children with COVID-19 respiratory infection [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 11]. Pediatr Radiol. 2020;10.1007/s00247-020-04656-7. doi:10.1007/s00247-02004656-7

This study describes five children with confirmed COVID-19 who had CT chest scans in a large tertiary level hospital in China. Three of the five children had patchy ground-glass opacities on their CT scans but these changes were less severe than those seen in infected adults. The treatment is not detailed in the paper, so presented as published in this summary.

Case 1: 17 month old asymptomatic male. Bloods: CRP 9.4, WCC 9.2. Radiology: CT chest performed on day 4 showed patchy ground glass opacities. Repeat CT on day 9 after treatment had normalised (antiviral, anti-infective, immunoglobulin, interferon and Lianhua qingwen granules). No CXR.

Case 2: 10 month old asymptomatic female. Bloods: CRP 0.9, WCC 14.8. Radiology: Day 2 scan: normal. Not repeated. No CXR.

Case 3: 3 year old male with coryza, productive cough, sore throat and fever after 3 days. Bloods: CRP 0.7, WCC 15.0. Radiology: Day 9 CT showed patchy ground-glass opacities. Repeat CT on day 16 had normalised after treatment (antiviral, anti-infective, immunoglobulin). No CXR. 

Case 4: 4 year old asymptomatic male. Bloods: CRP 0.2, WCC 6.6. Radiology: Day 2 CT chest showed patchy ground-glass opacities. Repeat CT on day 7 had normalised after treatment (montelukast, immunoglobulin). No CXR.

Case 5: 6 year old asymptomatic male. Bloods: CRP 0.6, WCC 5.3. Radiology: 

Day 3 CT was normal. No CXR.

Liu H, Liu F, Li J, Zhang T, Wang D, Lan W. Clinical and CT Imaging Features of the COVID-19 Pneumonia: Focus on Pregnant Women and Children [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 11]. J Infect. 2020;S0163-4453(20)30118-3. doi:10.1016/j.jinf.2020.03.007

This study is a review of CT imaging findings in children and pregnant women in a hospital in the Hubei Province. Four children with confirmed COVID-19 infection were included in the study. The bottom line is that pulmonary CT changes in children were mild, with either focal ground glass opacification or focal consolidation. Although CT has been reported as a useful screening tool in adults with suspected COVID-19 infection, the CT changes of the four children were non-specific; the authors conclude that exposure history and clinical symptoms are more helpful for screening in swab-negative children than CT. 41 pregnant women with either laboratory-confirmed or clinically-diagnosed COVID-19 infection were included in the study. All pregnant women had mild courses of their COVID-19 illnesses. Six of the 16 laboratory-confirmed pregnant women and 10 of the 25 clinically diagnosed pregnant women delivered during the study period. There were no cases of vertically transmitted COVID-19 in the neonates born to these pregnant women.

Case 1: 5 year old female with fever, cough and fatigue. No lymphadenopathy. Bloods: low WCC with raised lymphocytes and decreased neutrophil ratio. Normal CRP. CT: normal. Follow-up CT 9 days later remained normal.

Case 2: 11 month old male with fever and cough. No lymphadenopathy Bloods: normal WCC with raised lymphocyte count and decreased neutrophil ratio. Normal CRP. CT chest: single consolidation without peripheral predominance (unlike reported findings in adults).

Case 3: 9 year old female with fever but no cough. No lymphadenopathy. Bloods: normal WCC, low lymphocytes and normal neutrophil ratio. Normal CRP. CT chest: single ground glass opacity without peripheral predominance (unlike reported findings in adults).

Case 4: 2 month old male with cough but no fever. No lymphadenopathy. This infant was coinfected with RSV. Bloods: normal WCC with normal lymphocytes and normal neutrophil ratio. CRP raised (does not say how high). CT chest: multiple focal consolidations and pleural effusion. This infant’s CT findings were more severe than the other three children, thought to be due to coinfection with RSV.

Cardiology Papers

Del Barba, P., D. Canarutto, E. Sala, G. Frontino, M. P. Guarneri, C. Camesasca, C. Baldoli, A. Esposito and G. Barera (2020). “COVID-19 cardiac involvement in a 38-day old infant.” Pediatr Pulmonol. June 18th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1002/ppul.24895

First (single) case report of an infant with biochemical and echocardiographic evidence of mild cardiac involvement due to SARS-CoV-2 infection.  The 38 day old male infant presented to hospital on 27/03/20.  Neither the centre nor the country is identified but is likely to be in Italy.  Pregnancy had been unremarkable.  No delivery details given.  Baby was formula fed.  Both mother and father were +ve for SARS-CoV-2.  He presented with a fever of 37.6oC and rhinitis but no respiratory distress and did not require oxygen therapy.  Nasal and nasopharygeal swabs were +ve for SARS-CoV-2.  Haemoglobin, lymphocyte count, CRP, ESR, electrolytes, liver transaminases, INR and PTT were normal.  Abnormal results: LDH “mildly increased”, platelet count 525,000/μl, procalcitonin 3.28ng/ml, troponin T 8.2ng/dl, creatine kinase-MB 9.8μg/L, D-dimer 13.3 μg/ml, pro-brain natriuretic hormone 208pg/ml, fibrinogen 1.28g/L.  CXR showed increased bronchovascular markings but no parenchymal changes (CT not done).  A resting heart rate of 140bpm and a transient peak rate of 200bpm were the only cardiac signs (serial ECGs and 24hr recording).  First echocardiogram showed no abnormalities but cardiac MR scan showed a “minimal amount” of pericardial effusion with no myocardial edema.  Follow up echo 3 days after the first confirmed a 2mm effusion.  A panel of other viruses linked to pulmonary and/or cardiac problems in infants was negative.  He required no treatment and was discharged after 14 days.  Swabs were -ve 21 and 22 days after presentation.

Selman Kesici, Hayrettin Hakan Aykan, Diclehan Orhan, Benan Bayrakci, Fulminant COVID-19-related myocarditis in an infant, European Heart Journal, June 12th 2020, ehaa515, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa515

Clinical Features: 2 year old previously healthy male in contact with Covid19, hospitalized with nausea, vomiting and lethargy. On Day 2 of admission deteriorated with Respiratory distress, filiform pulse and blood pressure was not measurable. There was hepatomegaly. Child was intubated in PICU, while preparing for ECMO went into cardiac arrest. 30 minutes of CPR was performed. During ECMO biopsy of myocardium was taken.

Radiology: Initial CXR – bilateral interstitial infiltrates. Day 2: CXR Cardiomegaly with pleural effusion. ECHO: Severe heart failure

Bloods: Initial bloods negative for inflammatory markers but Troponin was elevated 30 times normal on Day 2.

PCR for viruses were negative including RT PCR for Sars_COV_2

Myocardial Biopsy showed local inflammation, Positive for RT_PCR for COVID 19

Conclusion: Single case report showing the effect of COVID 19 causing heart failure secondary to Myocarditis without Kawasaki like Syndrome

Trogen, B., F. J. Gonzalez and G. F. Shust (2020). “COVID-19-Associated Myocarditis in an Adolescent.” The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. 03. June 3rd 2020, doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000002788

This case report details the admission to PICU of a 17-year-old obese male (BMI 30kg/m2) with spondylolysis and a distant history of asthma (not requiring medication for > 5 yrs) who presented to a hospital in New York City during the third week of April with septic shock, after a week’s history of fever, GI symptoms and neck pain.

Clinical features:  7 day history of fever and neck pain and a 6 day history of diarrhoea and vomiting (non-bloody, non-bilious).  No neck stiffness, headache, photophobia or respiratory symptoms.  At presentation he was febrile, tachycardic and hypotensive (79/66 mmHg) with diffuse abdominal pain.  His cardiovascular status remained labile after initial fluid resuscitation and he was admitted to PICU.

Initial bloods:  Lymphocytes 0.9 x 103/μL, CRP 167 mg/L, ferritin 1275 ng/mL, D-dimer 1218 ng/mL, initial Troponin I level 2.97 ng/mL rising to 6.17 ng/mL 2 hrs later, brain natriuretic peptide 2124 pg/mL, sodium 128 mmol/L, creatinine 1.25 mg/dL, creatine kinase 761 U/L, LDH 346 U/L, INR 1.5, IL-6 28 pg/mL

Microbiology:  Nasopharyngeal swab RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 positive.  Other respiratory and GI pathogen PCRs negative, including enterovirus, adenovirus, CMV, EBV, HHV-6, parvovirus B19.

Radiology:  Abdominal USS essentially normal.  CXR: low lung volumes, normal cardiothymic silhouette and mild, hazy ground glass opacities at the lower lobes bilaterally.  

ECG:  T-wave inversion particularly in inferior leads.

Cardiac imaging:  Initial transthoracic echocardiogram: LV ejection fraction mildly depressed with no obvious intracardiac clots or pericardial effusion.  Cardiac MRI: normal sized LV & RV, LVEF 40%, RVEF 39%, area of mid-wall late gadolinium enhancement at inferior LV-RV junction corresponding to area of increased T2 signal as well as an area of hypokinesia, consistent with myocarditis.  

Treatment in PICU:  Blood pressure normalised on day 1, but remained febrile and tachycardic until day 4.  Required 2 days of oxygen via NC.  Received anticoagulation, paracetamol/ibuprofen and 48 hrs of piperacillin/tazobactam until blood cultures reported negative.  No other anti-inflammatories or IVIg given.  Initially started on hydroxychloroquine which was stopped on day 3 when serial ECG demonstrated prolonged QTc interval not present initially.  Serial Troponin I and BNP levels normalised by discharge.

Outcome:  Discharged on day 5 with 2 week course of anticoagulation (apixaban).  Echocardiogram at follow-up one week after discharge demonstrated normal ejection fraction (59%) with qualitatively improved function.  However, tissue Doppler imaging signals of the mitral valve annulus were still abnormally diminished with low global longitudinal strain rate, consistent with residual myocardial dysfunction.  Repeat ECG showed persistent T-wave inversion in lead III.

The authors conclude with a discussion of the possible mechanisms of cardiac injury secondary to COVID-19, including viral entry via the ACE2 receptor causing direct damage to myocardiocytes, immune-mediated injury secondary to cytokine release or T-cell dysregulation, microvascular damage, endothelial shedding/dysfunction, hypoxia-mediated injury and abnormal coagulation, including DIC, increasing the risk of thrombosis and ischaemic events.

Ocular Manifestation

Valente, P., G. Iarossi, M. Federici, et al. Ocular manifestations and viral shedding in tears of pediatric patients with coronavirus disease 2019: a preliminary report. J aapos. June 10th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaapos.2020.05.002

27 paediatric patients were identified between 16/03/2020 – 15/04/2020, from Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, Rome, Italy. It was not clear how patients were identified/recruited. The mean age was 84 months (range=8 days to 210 months). 74% were male (n=20); 26% were female (n=7).

Clinical features present:
– Cough and/or dyspneoa = 15 patients (56%);
– Vomiting and/or diarrhoea = 8 patients (30%);
– Ocular manifestations consistent with viral conjunctivitis = 4 patients (15%);
In the abstract it states that “At admission, all patients showed ocular manifestations”, however there is no other reference to further information in the paper.

Radiology/bloods: N/a

Other investigations:
Nasopharyngeal swab to COVID-19 tested positive in all 27 patients.
Of the 4 patients with apparent viral conjunctivitis, 1 patient resulted positive for SARS-CoV-2 on RT-PCR from conjunctival swab.
Of the other patients (n=23), two more patients had positive findings for SARS-CoV-2 in their conjunctival swab without developing clinical signs of conjunctivitis.

Outcomes: 27 (100%) discharges. 

Other salient features: Some preliminary evidence to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 shedding is low in eye secretions/tears.

Testing/Viral Studies

M. A. De Ioris, A. Scarselli, M. L. Ciofi Degli Atti, et al. Dynamic viral SARS-CoV-2 RNA shedding in in children: preliminary data and clinical consideration of Italian regional center. J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. May 23rd 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/jpids/piaa065

This study at a paediatric hospital in Rome tracked SARS-CoV-2 shedding (nasopharyngeal, faecal, urinary and conjunctival) by following a cohort of 22 children during their hospital stay, collecting clinical and microbiological data. 

Study design:  The study ran from 16th March to 12th April in the COVID centre at Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital and collected data on 22 inpatients with an initial positive nasopharyngeal swab (either prior to admission or on admission).  RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 RNA on nasopharyngeal and conjunctival swabs and stool and urine samples were repeated every 2-3 days for each child while they were inpatients until they had two consecutive negative results in the absence of new symptoms.  Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to estimate the duration of symptoms and viral shedding for symptomatic patients: patients whose last swab/sample was still positive were censored at the date of the last swab.

Study population:  15/22 (68%) male, 7/22 (32%) female.  Median age 7 years (range 8 days to 17.5 years).  4/22 neonates (1/4 tested because mother positive and 3/4 tested because midwife positive).  2/22 comorbidity (Angelman syndrome, suspected genetic syndrome and autism).  13/22 patients were discharged before the end of the study period (median inpatient stay 7 days, range 3-15 days).  

Symptoms:  4/22 (18%) asymptomatic (including 2/4 neonates, the other 2/4 had low grade fever and poor feeding).  18 symptomatic patients: 15/18 (83%) fever, 10/18 (55%) respiratory symptoms, 7/18 (39%) diarrhoea and vomiting, 3/18 (17%) seizure.  Symptoms had resolved in all 18 before discharge from hospital.  Median duration of symptoms was 8 days (range 2-21 days).  15/22 had a positive stool sample at admission: of these 7/15 (47%) had respiratory symptoms and 3/15 (20%) had diarrhoea and vomiting.

Viral shedding:  At diagnosis: 22/22 (100%) had positive nasopharyngeal swab (by definition), 15/22 (68%) had positive stool sample, 1/22 (5%) had positive urine sample (re-test 2 and 5 days later was negative; another patient had initial negative urine test but repeat 3 days later was positive) and 2/22 (9%) had positive conjunctival swab (both were negative 2-3 days later).  A detailed table charting the dates of inpatient stay, onset and end of symptoms and positive/negative swabs/samples for each patient is supplied: the full screen of faecal, urinary and conjunctival sampling was performed at variable intervals after the initial positive nasopharyngeal swab (up to 5 days later in several cases).  For symptomatic patients:  (1) from date of symptom onset to negative nasopharyngeal swab: median 8 days (range 2-17 days) and (2) from date of symptom onset to negative stool sample: median 14 days (range 10-15 days).  Estimate of persistence of viral shedding at day 14 from symptom onset for nasopharyngeal swab 52% and for stool sample 31%.

The authors note the need to confirm the clinical relevance of faecal SARS-CoV-2 shedding in terms of the risk of transmission via the faeco-oral route.

Xu, Y, Li X. Zhu, B. et al. Characteristics of pediatric SARS-CoV-2 infection and potential evidence for persistent fecal viral shedding. Nat Med (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-0817-4

This study presents the results of widespread screening for COVID-19 in Guangzhou in China. 745 children were screened of which 10 were positive for COVID-19. Their ages ranged from 2 months to 15 years.

Clinical features: 6/10 had a fever over 38oC.  5/10 had a cough. 4/10 had a sore throat. 2/10 had rhinorrhoea and 2/10 had diarrhoea.

Radiography: 7/10 had coarse lung markings on CXR with no pneumonia, and 3/10 were normal. CT scans revealed ground glass or patchy opacities in 5/10.

Bloods: Basically normal in all cases

They made note that rectal swabs were frequently positive and that these swabs were positive for a longer duration than nasal swabs.  The authors suggest on this basis that faecal-oral transmission may be possible, however this is very uncertain and will require further research to elucidate.

Yuan, C., H. Zhu, Y. Yang, X. Cai, F. Xiang, H. Wu, C. Yao, Y. Xiang and H. Xiao (2020). “Viral loads in throat and anal swabs in children infected with SARS-CoV-2.” Emerg Microbes Infect: https://doi.org/10.1080/22221751.2020.1771219

This is a retrospective review of RT-PCR testing results of 2138 paediatric patients with suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection at Wuhan Children’s Hospital in Hubei, China, from 1 January to 18 March 2020.  All children were tested using throat swabs (TS); a subset of 212 were also tested using anal swabs (AS).  Changes in viral load in both throat and anal swabs were monitored in 13 patients.

Findings:  217/2138 (10%) confirmed cases on EITHER throat or anal swab.

78/217 confirmed cases had both types of swab: 24/78 (31%) positive for both TS & AS, 37/78 (47%) TS pos/AS neg, 17/78 (22%) TS neg/AS pos.  For those cases where the TS and AS results didn’t match (i.e. TS pos/AS neg or TS neg/AS pos):

Asymptomatic:  12/37 (32%) TS pos & 10/17 (59%) AS pos

GI symptoms:  7/37 (19%) TS pos & 6/17 (35%) AS pos

Cough:  16/37 (43%) TS pos & 4/17 (24%) AS pos

Fever:  20/37 (54%) TS pos & 5/17 (29%) AS pos

CT evidence of pneumonia:  25/37 (68%) TS pos & 10/17 (59%) AS pos

Time from positive to negative for PCR assay:  7 days for TS pos & 6 days for AS pos

The viral loads detected on throat swabs and anal swabs showed no difference.

Zhao, W., Y. Wang, Y. Tang, W. Zhao, Y. Fan, G. Liu, R. Chen, R. Song, W. Zhou, Y. Liu and F. Zhang (2020). “Characteristics of Children With Reactivation of SARS-CoV-2 Infection After Hospital Discharge.” Clin Pediatr,May 28th https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0009922820928057

In this study from Beijing, China, serial nasopharyngeal swabs were performed on children discharged between January 21st and April 18th 2020 following hospital admission with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Criteria for hospital discharge included clinical improvement and 2 negative RT-PCR tests for SARS-CoV-2 on consecutive nasopharyngeal swabs. Follow up swabs were performed fortnightly following discharge; the authors report on children with subsequent positive RT-PCR on follow up.

In total 14 children were followed, 7 of whom had a subsequent positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR result, none of whom had significant symptoms at the time (one with a temperature of 37.5). There were no significant clinical or laboratory differences between the group with subsequent positive tests compared with those who remained negative.

The authors refer to those who have subsequent positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR as having “reactivation” of infection. This is a misnomer as the persistent shedding of viral RNA has been well recognised in adult studies<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jmv.25952>. This includes a large cohort of over 200 patients from Korea <https://www.cdc.go.kr/board/board.es?mid=a30402000000&bid=0030> with positive tests following negative PCR results, similar to the children in this study. Importantly no onward transmission from these “re-positive” cases was found amongst 790 contacts in the Korean cohort, suggesting the viral RNA detected in patients with prolonged shedding is not viable. Indeed in a recent in vitro study<https://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa638/5842165> including 90 SARS-CoV-2 PCR positive samples, only samples taken within 8 days of symptoms onset were capable of infecting cells. This is in keeping with contact tracing data<https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2765641> suggesting peak transmissibility occurs before and immediately after symptom onset with limited transmission beyond 5 days of symptom onset.

The likely explanation of the “reactivation” described here is prolonged shedding of non-viable viral RNA with an interim “false negative” samples prior to hospital discharge. Given the available data, it is unlikely that these “re-positive” discharged patients represent an infection risk to others

Xing Y, Ni W, Wu Q, et al. Prolonged presence of SARS-CoV-2 in feces of pediatric patients during the convalescent phase. doi:10.1101/2020.03.11.20033159

A pre-print, the information should be treated again with caution until it has undergone peer review.

This study of 3 paediatric patients with COVID-19 from Qingdao, China (aged 1.5, 5 and 6 years) all had fevers and none were severe. All children had elevated lymphocytes (>4.4 x 109/L) and 2 of 3 had abnormalities on chest CT (consolidation in one and ground glass changes in the other). The primary point made in the paper is that whilst respiratory swabs were negative within 2 weeks after children became afebrile, stool remained positive for over 4 weeks.

Pandey U, Yee R, Precit M, et al Pediatric COVID-19 in Southern California: clinical features and viral genetic diversity, medRXiv, June 2nd 2020, https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.28.20104539

A study of 35 children age range 18 days to 18.5 years (median12.5), 57% of whom were boys, seen over an 8 week period in Southern California. Patients were identified by nasopharyngeal swabs submitted to Los Angeles Children’s Hospital between 11 March 2020 and 11 May 2020. 37% were hospitalised with a median inpatient stay of 4 days. Symptoms were diverse with fever and cough being the most common, 1/3 were symptomless. Whole genome sequencing was undertaken on Covid-19 samples. There was an association between disease severity and viral load. Children < 5 years age had a higher viral load and all were symptomatic. There was limited variation in the viral genome though a calculated evolutionary rate was like other RNA viruses. No correlation was identified between disease severity and genetic variation.

Zachariah, P., K. C. Halabi, C. L. Johnson, S. Whitter, J. Sepulveda and D. A. Green (2020). “Symptomatic Infants have Higher Nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 Viral Loads but Less Severe Disease than Older Children.” Clin Infect Dis, May 20th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa608

This research letter details the viral loads of children with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection from Columbia University Irving Medical Centre in New York. All children admitted and discharged between March 14th to April 24th 2020 were included, timing of test relative to onset of symptoms, clinical severity along with viral load were compared between infants <1yo and children >1yo.
Of 57 patients with positive SARSCoV-2 PCR, 20 (35%) were under 1yo. Compared with older children, viral load was higher amongst infants <1yo (mean cycle threshold 21.05 vs 27.25, p<0.01 – where lower cycle threshold=greater viral load). Infants were tested earlier on average (2 vs 3.8 days from symptom onset) and fewer had severe disease compared with older children (5% vs 32.4%).

In this small hospital-based study symptomatic infants appear were found to have higher viral loads and milder disease compared with older children. This is in contrast to data from some adult studies where a higher viral load correlated with more severe illness.
Amongst several possible explanations for this observation are that:
– infants were more likely to be tested early in illness when viral load peaks<https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0869-5> – declining thereafter
– thresholds for hospital presentation may differ between infants and older children
– test performance and sample quality may differ between infants and older children
– there may possibly be differences in host biology according to age
Although some data suggest that higher SARS-CoV-2 viral load is associated with the presence of viable virus<https://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa638/5842165> / in vitro infectivity, the exact implications of the findings here in terms of risk of transmission from infants compared with older children is unclear. Further studies examining SARS-CoV-2 viral load dynamics and correlation with clinical course in children are required to better understand potential variation between different age groups.

Haematology and Immunology Focus

Odièvre, M. H., C. de Marcellus, H. Ducou Le Pointe, S. Allali, A. S. Romain, J. Youn, J. Taytard, N. Nathan and H. Corvol (2020). “Dramatic improvement after Tocilizumab of a severe COVID-19 in a child with sickle cell disease and acute chest syndrome.” May 1st 2020, Am J Hematol. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajh.25855

The authors of this case study are based at two hospitals in Paris; in this correspondence they describe the treatment of a 16 year old girl with homozygous sickle cell disease (SCD) admitted to ICU with acute chest syndrome (ACS) and pulmonary emboli complicating COVID-19 pneumonia, in particular the use of Tocilizumab, a humanised anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibody (usual indications include use as immunosuppressant therapy in rheumatoid arthritis and giant cell arteritis in adults and juvenile idiopathic arthritis in children).

Course of SCD prior to admission:  The patient had a history of recurrent vaso-occlusive crises and abnormal transcranial dopplers between the ages of 5 and 11 years old, necessitating treatment with exchange transfusions.  At 11 years of age she was commenced on daily hydroxyurea with resolution of vaso-occlusive events.  She had no history of ACS or pulmonary hypertension; respiratory function and chest radiography were previously normal.

Presentation with COVID-19-19:  She presented with isolated fever, with nasophyaryngeal swabs subsequently confirmed as RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 positive.  7 days later she developed acute chest pain associated with respiratory distress (SpO2 85%).

Radiology:  CT pulmonary angiogram (CTPA) showed bilateral pulmonary emboli and bilateral consolidation with right-sided halo sign.

Treatment in ICU:  Included non-invasive ventilation, anticoagulation and red cell exchange transfusion followed by simple transfusion (lowest Hb 64 g/L).  Based on recent experience in adult SCD patients with COVID-19 disease she also received a single infusion of Tocilizumab (8 mg/kg).  The authors report rapid clinical improvement after Tocilizumab with repeat CTPA 5 days later showing complete resolution of pulmonary emboli and consolidation on the right and decrease on the left.  She was discharged from hospital 11 days after admission to continue oral anticoagulation for 6 weeks.

Conclusions:  Inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF-α are elevated in COVID-19.  COVID-19 pneumonia can cause ACS in SCD patients; there have been several recent reports of successful treatment using Tocilizumab.

Tsao HS, Chason HM, Fearon DM. Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP) in a SARS-CoV-2 Positive Paediatric Patient. Pediatrics. 2020 May 1. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-1419. Pre-publication version.   

A retrospective single case report was reported by Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Rhode Island, USA, highlighting an association between SARS-CoV-2 and immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) in children. The patient was co-positive with rhinovirus and enterovirus, previously described in children managed for SARS-CoV-2. 

A 10-year-old female patient was admitted for management of ITP after presenting with a petechial rash. 3 weeks prior she experienced 2 days of symptoms: cough and fever, following exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. She did not have a family history of haematological or autoimmune conditions, any medical problems or medications. 

A ‘respiratory panel’ was positive for rhinovirus and enterovirus and negative for coronavirus types 229E, HKU1, NL63, OC43. A Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction testing was positive for SARS-CoV-2. 

Clinical features: Initial illness (3 weeks prior to ED presentation): fever, non-productive cough

Presentation to ED: petechial rash spreading from the legs to chest and neck, oral wet purpura, ecchymoses in the popliteal regions and shins.  

Radiology: N/A

Bloods: At presentation: WCC 3.9 X 10^9/L (56% neutrophils, 38% lymphocytes) [Leukopenia without neutropenia or lymphopenia], haemoglobin 13.4 g/dL [normal], platelets 5 X 10^9/L [thrombocytopenia]. ANA borderline positive titers (1:40) in a speckled pattern which was considered not significant.

At 2 week follow up: WCC 6.1 X10^9/L [normal], Platelets 320 X 10^9/L [normal], ALT 56 IU/L [mildly raised], AST 28 IU/L [mildly raised].  

Treatments: Intravenous immunoglobulin, paracetamol, and antihistamine to manage ITP.  

Outcomes: Discharge from hospital after 1 day. Rash and oral lesions improved after 48 hours. Side effects were noted due to IVIG including headache, vomiting, abdominal pain. 

At 2 week follow up platelet count was maintained, white cell count normalised and a mild transaminitis was noted.  

Wu, H., H. Zhu, C. Yuan, C. Yao, W. Luo, X. Shen, J. Wang, J. Shao and Y. Xiang (2020). “Clinical and Immune Features of Hospitalized Pediatric Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Wuhan, China.” JAMA Netw Open 3(6): e2010895. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.10895

In this retrospective case series from Wuhan, China, the clinical and immunological characteristics of children admitted to hospital with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection are examined. Details are provided for the 148 children with mild or moderate disease.

The median age was 84 months (IQR 18-123). Fever (40.5%) and cough (44.6%) and vomiting or diarrhoea (21.6%) were the most common symptoms. SARS-CoV-2 PCR became negative at a median of 7 days (IQR 4-11 days).
Lymphopenia was present in only 4.5% of patients; CD 4 lymphopenia in 1.9%. Elevation in CRP (32.4%) and procalcitonin (47.3% elevated; median 0.05 (IQR 0.04-0.08)) was observed in fewer than half of patients. Liver transaminases and LDH were significantly higher in moderate versus mild cases but the vast majority of levels fell within normal range.
Levels of inflammatory cytokines including IL2, IL6, TNG-a and IFN.y were largely normal; the authors note that one patient with severe disease had elevated IL-6 (3869 pg/mL). IL-10 was increased in 14%.
No deaths occurred amongst mild and moderate cases and all 148 patients were discharged.

In this large case series of children with mild or moderated SARS-CoV-2 infection, laboratory measures of inflammation were largely normal. Specifically the significant elevations in IL-6, D-dimer, and ferritin characteristic of severe COVID-19 in adults and also PIMS-TS / MIS-C in children were absent in these milder cases. The authors postulate that the relative preservation of CD4 T-cells and the higher levels of IL-10 compared with adults with severe COVID-19 may indicate these as important components of a protective immune response.
As yet our understanding of the drivers of variation in individual immune response to SARS-CoV-2 remains incomplete.

Venturini E,  Palmas G, Galli L. Severe neutropenia in infants with severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by the novel coronavirus 2019 infection. 2020 May 19. doi 10.1016/j.paeds 2020.04.051 [Epub ahead of print]

This case report from the Meyer Children University Hospital, Florence, published as a letter describes two infants with SARS-CoV-2 with transient severe neutropenia (<0.5 x109/l)

Clinical Features: The two female infants, aged 23 days and 39 days were admitted with mild respiratory symptoms and low grade fever. Nasopharyngeal swans were positive for Covid-19. There was no clinical deterioration in their condition during admission.

Radiology: not described

Treatment: not described.

Haematology: leukocytes and neutrophils normal on admission. At 5 days neutrophil counts fell to 0.244 x 109/lnand 0.482 x 109/l. Subsequently both improved.

Apart from age and gender there is no other demographic information nor any on treatments.

Although neutropenia is described in 6% of cases of Covid-19, severe neutropenia has not been described. In the report cases it was not associated with any change in clinical state. The authors suggest consideration of performing FBCs 5 to 7 days into the illness to identify neutropenia.

It requires further studies to see if these findings are replicated and whether they are clinically significant. The severity of the neutropenia could be age dependent reflecting bone marrow maturity as one patient was in the neonatal range and the other just beyond it. 

Chen, J., Z. Z. Zhang, Y. K. Chen, et al (2020). “The clinical and immunological features of pediatric COVID-19 patients in China.” Genes and Diseases. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gendis.2020.03.008

This early study from Chongqing, China describes the features of 12 children diagnosed with COVID-19. All had a mild course of illness. CT imaging was abnormal in 10 of 12 with patchy ground glass opacity the most common finding. Lymphopenia was present in 2 children.
The authors also compare the “immune profile” (including lymphocyte counts, immunoglobulins, complement, CRP and IL6 levels) of the 12 children with a group of 20 adults patients. Aside from a lower CRP in children (mean 11.5 vs 23.3mg/L) and expected age-related differences in absolute lymphocyte numbers, there were no significant differences between the groups.

Other Interesting Clinical Papers

Xiong, X., G. T. Chua, S. Chi et al. A Comparison Between Chinese Children Infected with COVID-19 and with SARS. J Pediatr. June 18th 2020, https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.jpeds.2020.06.041

In this study, 244 children with SARS-CoV-2 infection from Wuhan, China are compared to 44 children diagnosed with SARS (SARS-CoV-1) in in Hong Kong in 2003. 

The clinical details of this series of patients from Wuhan, previously described elsewhere, are compared with those of those of children with SARS-CoV-1. Overall children with SARS-CoV-2 were younger than those with SARS-CoV-1 (median age 82 montsh vs 160 months). Compared with SARS-CoV-1 patients, children with SARS CoV-2 were less likely to have symptoms (20.9% asymptomatic vs 0% of SARS-CoV-1), including fever (40.2% vs 97.7%), myalgia (37.6% vs 0.8%), and chills (32.6% vs 3.7%). 

Fewer children with SARS-CoV-2 required supplemental oxygen (4.7% vs 18.6%) and few in either cohort required mechanical ventilation (1.6% vs 2.3%). A single death occurred in a patient with SARS-CoV-2 (a 10 mo with intussusspection) and no cases of PIMS-TS / MIS-C were identified amongst the 244 SARS-CoV-2 infected children from Wuhan.

The most striking difference is the milder clinical illness and relative lack of symptoms in children with SARs-CoV-2 compared with those with SARS-CoV-1. The lack of asymptomatic infections in SARS-CoV-1 is also notable, similar to findings in adults. Whilst the role of asymptomatic patients in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is unresolved, the milder clinical illness in the majority of patients along with the demonstrated earlier peak in viral shedding relative to symptom onset and resultant role of pre-symptomatic transmission are likely major reasons for the continuing widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2, where the outbreak of SARS-CoV-1 in 2003 was more readily contained.

Li Y, Wang H, Wang F, Du H, Liu X, Chen P, Wang Y, Lu X, Comparison of Hospitalized Patients with pneumonia caused by COVID-19 and influenza A in children under 5 years, International Journal of Infectious Diseases (2020) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2020.06.026

This study is from Wuhan children’s hospital, China. It is a retrospective one reviewing the clinical history, radiology and laboratory results of 57children under 5, with confirmed pneumonia on CT or radiography within 72 hours of admission, with COVID-19 diagnosed by detecting SARS-CoV-2 in throat swabs. The comparison group was 59 children aged under 5 who were admitted with influenza A pneumonia. Influenza A was diagnosed by direct immunofluorescence assay.

The 57 COVID-19 pneumonia children were consecutively admitted between 28th January and 11th March 2020; the 59 influenza A pneumonia children were consecutively admitted between 14th December 2019 and 30th February 2020(?).

The median age of the COVID-19 patients was 18.7+/- 16.7 months. The median age of the Influenza A patients was 21.8+/-16.7 months with no statistical difference. There was slightly higher proportion of males in each group 61.4% for COVID-19 vs 66.1% for the influenza A group with no statistical difference.

Clinical features: 31(54.4%) of the COVID-19 patients presented with fever compared to 50(84.7%) influenza A patients, P<0.001. 40(70.2%) of the COVID-19 patients presented with cough compared to 50(84.7%) in the influenza A group, p<0.001. Dyspnoea occurred in only 2(3.5%) COVID-19 patients and 5(8.5%) influenza A patients, p=NS. Gastrointestinal symptoms occurred in 8(14.1%) of the COVID-19 patients and 21(35.6%) of the influenza A patients, p=NS. Convulsions occurred in only 1 COVID-19 child and 3 influenza A children, p=NS. During hospitalization 1 COVID-19 child required supplementary oxygen and two required intensive care, compared to 7 influenza A children requiring supplementary oxygen and 4 intensive care, p=NS.

Radiology: CT chest imaging with ground glass appearance was more commonly found in COVID-19 pneumonia children 42.1% vs15% influenza A pneumonia children, p=0.03. Consolidation was more common in influenza A children (25%) compared to COVID-19 patients (5.2%), P = 0.02.

Haematology and Biochemistry

Haematology investigations showed COVID-19 patients had significantly lower levels of leukocytes and neutrophils but significantly higher lymphocyte levels compared with influenza A patients (7.87 vs. 9.89 ×109/L, P = 0.02; 2.43 vs. 5.16 ×109/L, P < 0.001; 4.58 vs. 3.56 ×109/L; P = 0.006.

Lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) were observed in COVID-19 patients than influenza A patients (3.7 vs. 15.1 mg/L, P = 0.001.

There were no significant routine biochemistry differences between the two groups except potassium which was significantly lower in the COVID-19 group.

Significantly lower levels of D-dimer and prothrombin time (PT) were found in COVID-19 patients than influenza A patients (0.34 vs. 1.94, P < 0.001; 10.8 vs. 11.2 mm/h, P = 0.014).

There were no deaths reported in this study.

Conclusion: The authors concluded that children under 5 with COVID-19 pneumonia compared to children with influenza A pneumonia showed milder clinical symptoms and a significantly increased lymphocytosis with a more prevalent ground glass CT chest appearance compared to influenza A pneumonia children under 5. There were no reported deaths or serious complications from COVID-19 in this study.

The study shows COVID-19 pneumonia is milder than influenza A pneumonia in a series children under 5. The influenza A patients were not typed and came from a different but overlapping time period during the winter months. Comorbidities were also not mentioned in either group.

Lu, Y., Y. Li, W. Deng, M. Liu, Y. He, L. Huang, M. Lv, J. Li and H. Du (2020). “Symptomatic Infection is Associated with Prolonged Duration of Viral Shedding in Mild Coronavirus Disease 2019: A Retrospective Study of 110 Children in Wuhan.” The Pediatric infectious disease journal. 05. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000002729

This retrospective study analysed demographic, clinical, laboratory, radiological and therapeutic data from the electronic medical records of 110 children hospitalised with “mild/ordinary” COVID-19 (classified as per the National Health Commission of People’s Republic of China National Recommendations for Diagnosis and Treatment of COVID-19, 7th edition) at Wuhan Children’s Hospital in Hubei, China between 30th January and 10th March 2020.  Inclusion criteria: throat or nasopharyngeal swabs RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 positive and patient discharged from hospital after recovery (an initial cohort of 127 children was reduced to 110 after exclusion of 2 critical cases and 15 children in whom the onset of disease could not be accurately determined).

Study design:  Timings of onset of illness, most recent exposure (presumably to SARS-CoV-2-confirmed or symptomatic contacts, although this isn’t specified), diagnosis and discharge from hospital were recorded.  Patients were discharged only once they had two consecutive RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 negative swab results (separated by at least 24 hours).  The authors calculated the duration of viral shedding for (a) symptomatic patients (81/110, 74%) as time from onset of illness to discharge and for (b) asymptomatic patients (29/110, 26%) as time from date of most recent exposure OR abnormal chest radiological imaging (reason for imaging not specified in these asymptomatic patients) to discharge.  This definition of duration of viral shedding, with starting point presumably in most cases a retrospective parent-reported start of symptoms or exposure to an infectious contact, and end point two negative swabs leading to discharge from hospital, makes interpreting the duration figures problematic.  Viral shedding in urine and faeces was not measured.

Clinical features:  Median age of the 110 children was 6 years (IQR 2-9); 59/110 male (54%), 51/110 female (46%).  Symptoms included: cough and dyspnoea 57/110 (52%), fever 56/110 (51%), GI (including diarrhoea, vomiting, poor feeding, anorexia, abdominal pain) 26/110 (24%), rhinorrhoea 10/110 (9%).

Radiology:  64/103 (62%) had unspecified chest imaging reported as demonstrating pneumonia (55/75 symptomatic (73%) and 9/28 asymptomatic (32%)).

Bloods:  Leucocytes < 4.0 x 109/L in 6/110 (5%) (all 6 were symptomatic).  Leucocytes > 10.5 x 109/L in 12/110 (11%) (9 symptomatic & 3 asymptomatic).  Lymphocyte ranges not specified.  Haemoglobin < 110 g/L in 13/110 (12%) (all 13 symptomatic).  Fibrinogen < 2.0 g/L in 34/90 (38%) (20 symptomatic & 14 asymptomatic).  Hs-CRP > 3.0 mg/L in 21/110 (19%) (18 symptomatic & 3 asymptomatic).  Procalcitonin > 0.05 ng/mL in 52/110 (47%) (43 symptomatic & 9 asymptomatic).  AST > 50.0 U/L in 19/110 (17%) (all 19 symptomatic).

Treatment:  None of the patients required oxygen therapy.  All of them received antiviral therapy, mostly commonly nebulised interferon-α.  According to the data table 22/110 received Chinese medicine therapy, although no details are given and it’s not clear if this was pre-hospitalisation.  Median duration of hospital stay was 10 days (IQR 8-13).

Conclusions:  The median duration of viral shedding using the definitions above was 15 days overall (IQR 11-20 days, range 5-37 days): 17 days (IQR 12-23) in symptomatic patients and 11 days (IQR 9-13) in asymptomatic patients.  Symptomatic infection, fever, pneumonia and lymphocyte counts < 2.0 x 109/L were reported to be associated with prolonged duration of shedding. 

Xiao, Z., X. Xie, W. Guo, Z. Luo, J. Liao, F. Wen, Q. Zhou, L. Han and T. Zheng (2020). “Examining the incubation period distributions of COVID-19 on Chinese patients with different travel histories.” Journal of infection in developing countries 14(4): 323-327. doi:10.3855/jidc.12718

Although all ages are affected by COVID-19, this paper makes it clear that the number of infected children is tiny compared to those in adults. The authors analyse incubation periods by age, finding that this increases in length in adults from aged 20 to 70+. The findings regarding children are more difficult to interpret due to small case numbers and therefore large confidence intervals, but it appears that 6 to 20 year olds may have a longer incubation period than young adults aged 20 to 60. The results for 0-5 year olds are fairly inconclusive. The authors then examine incubation in relation to travel history, finding that those who were affected by local community spread had longer incubation periods than those who had contracted the virus directly in Wuhan. They conclude that the virulence of the virus may decrease with intergenerational transmission, but that more work is needed.

Zhang, B., S. Liu, Y. Dong, L. Zhang, Q. Zhong, Y. Zou and S. Zhang (2020). “Positive rectal swabs in young patients recovered from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Journal of Infection April 23rd 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf.2020.04.023

In this case series from Dongguan, China, three normally fit & well children aged 14y, 13y and 10m were followed up after positive throat swab for SARS-CoV-2. All three had a subsequent negative throat swab within approximately 7 days, and fully recovered, however 7-9 days later all three had rectal swabs which were positive. These findings raise the question of whether apparently well COVID-19 patients continue to carry and possibly shed the virus. If this was found to be the case in larger and more comprehensive studies, there may be an argument for introduction of strategies to increase avoidance of transmission via the faecal-oral route.

Nathan, N., B. Prevost and H. Corvol (2020). “Atypical presentation of COVID-19 in young infants.” The Lancet 395(10235): 1481.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30980-6

This correspondence in the Lancet describes the clinical features of 5 infants with COVID-19 who were admitted to a Paris hospital during the first week after imposed population quarantine in France (from 17th March 2020).  At this time at Trousseau Hospital, children needing admission with fever or respiratory symptoms (or both) were admitted to a dedicated SARS-CoV-2 infection unit: during this week 14 infants under the age of 3 months were admitted and of these 5 out of 14 were confirmed SARS-CoV-2 positive on nasopharyngeal swabs.

Age/gender of infants:  All 5 of these previously healthy infants with COVID-19 were boys; ages ranged from 1.6 to 2.7 months (median 2.1).  All of their parents had mild signs of viral infection (including fever, cough, rhinitis), which could have been indicative of undiagnosed COVID-19.

Clinical features at presentation:  5/5 fever (range 37.4 to 38.5 °C), 4/5 neurological signs (drowsiness/hypotonia/abnormal “moaning” cry), 4/5 mottled skin, 4/5 runny nose, 4/5 cough, 0/5 dyspnoea, 5/5 normal SpO2, 0/5 digestive symptoms.

Investigations:  FBC, CRP & procalcitonin largely unremarkable, with the exception of lymphopaenia in 2/5.  Lumbar punctures in 4/5 babies with abnormal neurology reported normal (including negative for RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2).  Chest X-rays performed in 4/5 essentially normal.

Outcomes:  All 5 showed rapid clinical improvement and received no drugs other than paracetamol.  Inpatient stays ranged from 1 to 3 days and duration of fever ranged from 1 to 5 days (max 39°C).  The infants were followed up for 2 weeks post-discharge with a daily phone call from a paediatrician using a standardised questionnaire.

Conclusion:  This encouraging report of a small cohort of SARS-CoV-2 positive infants under the age of 3 months presenting with fever showed initially concerning signs on admisson, but rapid recovery and minimal intervention needed for all 5 infants.

Wu, Q., Y. Xing, L. Shi, W. Li, Y. Gao, S. Pan, Y. Wang, W. Wang and Q. Xing (2020). “Co-infection and Other Clinical Characteristics of COVID-19 in Children.” Pediatrics. May 1st 2020, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2020-0961

This retrospective study from 2 hospitals in China examines the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of 74 children with confirmed SARS CoV-2 infection. Consistent with other studies, the majority of children experienced a mild course of illness with only one severe case requiring non-invasive ventilation. All recovered.

Cough was present in 32%, fever in 27% and 40% were asymptomatic at the time of testing. Lymphopenia was present in only 5% of cases. Abnormal CT imaging was observed in 50%, but only 12% showed typical changes of COVID-19.

Of those tested for other respiratory pathogens 19 of 34 had co-infection. Mycoplasma pneumoniae (16) and RSV (3) were the most common pathogens. It is not clear how these pathogens were identified. The significance of Mycoplasma in particular is not entirely clear as asymptomatic upper respiratory tract carriage<https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001444> in children is well recognised; similarly in interpreting serology, false positives<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1469-0691.2004.00993.x> can be problematic.

For cases where exposure history was available 65/68 were household contacts of a confirmed adult case. There was no evidence of transmission from children to others.

This data is consistent with larger paediatrics studies demonstrating a milder course of COVID-19 in children compared with adults. Notably co-infection was not uncommon, illustrating that the presence of another respiratory pathogen should not preclude SARS-CoV-2 testing in children.

Richardson S, Hirsch JS, Narasimhan M, et al. Presenting Characteristics, Comorbidities, and Outcomes Among 5700 Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19 in the New York City Area. JAMA. Published online April 22, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.6775

This is a paper from New York, USA, looking at the presenting characteristics, comorbidities, and outcomes of 5700 patients who were hospitalized with Covid-19. These were patients who were admitted to one of 12 Northwell Health acute care hospitals between 01/03/2020 and 04/04/2020. Clinical outcomes were monitored until 04/04/2020. All patients who were sufficiently medically ill to require hospital admission with confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection by positive result on PCR testing of an NPA were included. The median age of patients was 63 years (IQR 52-75), 39.7% were female. 

There were only 59 patients under 10yo, and 15 patients between 10-20 years of age in this study.

The results below unless specified are for patients of all ages. 

At presentations, 30.7% of patients had a temperature of over 380C. 20% had oxygen saturations of less than 90%. 43.1% of patients were considered tachycardic with a heart rate of over 100. 

The majority of patients white cell count and differentials were within normal range. The mean white blood cell count was 7 (IQR 5.2-9.5). Neutrophil count 5.3 (IQR 3.7-7.7), however some patients were mildly lymphopenic, median 0.88 (IQR 0.6-1.2). 

Most patients had a low CRP, the mean result was 16 (IQR 6.4-26.9). Most patients had a raised ferritin, the mean result was 798 (IQR 411-1515), with 15-400 being considered normal range. Of note lactate dehydrogenase was tested in 70% of the patients and was significantly raised in most patients, the mean being 404 (IQR 300-551) with the normal considered to be 50-242.

A venous lactate was recorded in 44% of patients and all results were normal- <2. 

The most common comorbidities were hypertension (56.6%), obesity (41.7%) and diabetes (33.8%). 

At the study end point 2634 patients had been discharged or had died during hospitalisation. Of these 14.2% were treated in ICU, 12.2% of them received mechanical ventilation, and 21% of these patients died. At the end point of the study of those patients who had received mechanical ventilation 3.3% were discharged alive, 24.5% died, 72.2% were still in hospital. There were no deaths in the 34 patients under 18 age group out of those who had reached discharge end point. There were still 25 patients under 20 years hospitalised at the time of the paper. 

Of the patients who died, those with diabetes were more likely to have received mechanical ventilation or care in the ICU compared to those who did not have diabetes. Interestingly of those who died, those with hypertension were less likely to have received invasive mechanical ventilation than those without hypertension. 

As most patients were still in the hospital at the endo point of the study (53.8%) this biases rates toward including patients who died early in their hospital course. The researchers point out that as these patients complete their hospital course, reported mortality rates will decline. 

This study was slightly limited by the fact that the data was collected from the electronic heath record database and not the medical notes, from which a greater level of detail may have been established, however it was using this method that allowed for such a large number of patients to have been included and reviewed over a relatively short space of time. It is also limited by the fact that the study population only included patients from within the New York metropolitan area which may underrepresent some ethnic minorities. 

Shekerdemian LS, Mahmood NR, Wolfe KK, et al. Characteristics and Outcomes of Children With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Infection Admitted to US and Canadian Pediatric Intensive Care Units. JAMA Pediatr. Published online May 11, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1948

This is a cross-sectional study of children admitted to 46 PICUs in North America. 48 children were admitted during the collection period (March 14 to April 3 2020). All had confirmed COVID-19 infection on PCR from a nasal swab.

Most patients presented with respiratory symptoms, but there were other presentations – three with DKA, and one with vaso-occlusive crisis (sickle cell). 86% of these patients had at least one comorbidity. 69% were severely or critically ill on admission, and 25% needed vasoactive drugs. 81% of patients needed respiratory support that exceeded their baseline.
61% had a range of therapies, including Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin, Remdisivir, and Tocilizumab. These were used as single agents or in combination with other therapies.
The overall mortality rate was 4.2% (both patients who died had pre-existing comorbidities and developed multisystem organ failure). 32% were still hospitalised at the time of publication (including one patient still receiving ECMO). 65% had been discharged.

This study reinforces what is known about the decreased burden of disease from COVID-19 in children compared with adults. Critically ill children had a less severe course of illness and better hospital outcomes than in adults. Children commonly had medically complex comorbidities. Overall the mortality is much lower in children (4.2%) than has been reported in adults (50-62%)

Lazzerini, Marzia et al, Delayed access or provision of care in Italy resulting from fear of COVID-19, The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, Volume 0, Issue 0, Published April 9th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(20)30108-5

This is a report of case studies during the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy of children whose presentations were thought to have been delayed due to parental fears of coming to the hospital. They report from 5 hospitals between March 1st and March 27th 2020, where paediatric presentations were reduced between 73–88%.

During this period, in the week of March 23rd to 27th 12 children are identified whose parents reported avoiding accessing hospital due to concerns over SARS-CoV-2 infection . 6 of these were admitted to PICU and there were 4 deaths. The cases include 2 children with DKA, 2 with acute leukaemia, 2 children with cerebral palsy and complex needs, 1 with pneumonia and febrile convulsions, 1 with pyelonephritis, 1 with pyloric stenosis, 1 with a Wilm’s tumour, 1 with vomiting and hypoglycaemia and 1 with a congenital syndrome on dialysis.

This case series highlights the concerns of many paediatricians that more deaths will be seen in children from collateral damage born from the COVID-19 response, than will die of COVID-19. Delayed presentations is a major concern around the world currently, and whilst these cases certainly raise concerns, evidence is needed to ascertain the true presence and extent of this problem.

Preßler, J., S. Fill Malfertheiner, M. Kabesch, H. Buntrock-Döpke, S. Häusler, A. Ambrosch and S. Wellmann (2020). “Postnatal SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Immunological Reaction: A Prospective Family Cohort Study.” Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 9th June 2020, https://doi.org/10.1111/PAI.13302 

This letter to the editor in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology presents data on 61 deliveries where there had been varying degrees of unprotected parental contact with SARS-CoV-2-infected midwives, nurses and doctors during the first week (precontainment) of a COVID-19 outbreak affecting 36 staff members in a large maternity and perinatal centre in Bavaria, Germany.  Two previous papers in the same journal, published 22 April 2020 and 15 May 2020, have reported on containment strategies, symptoms, SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests and antibody responses (IgG and IgA) in hospital staff during the outbreak.  The index case was a midwife returning from holiday in Ischgl, Austria on 8 March 2020, who became unwell during a nightshift on 9 March at Regensburg University Hospital obstetric clinic; the first positive SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test result was received on 15 March and at that point contact tracing, testing and containment measures were introduced.

Study design:  66 families were identified with an infant born at the clinic during the week of 9 to 15 March where parents had had unprotected contact with SARS-CoV-2-infected medical staff; of these, 61 families consented to a prospective cohort study involving serial symptom interview, serial SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR screening in throat rinsing fluid (parents) and faeces (infants) and serum IgA and IgG antibody studies (parents and infants) 4-5 weeks post-partum.  Serum and breast milk were also tested using a different antibody assay to verify antibody responses.  The authors note in their paper of 15 May 2020 that IgM antibody testing would have been useful, but that validated and certified IgM tests were not available to them at that time.

Key neonatal findings:  The median gestational age at delivery was 39.3 weeks.  Infants in the study received skin-to-skin care, rooming-in and breastfeeding in line with the hospital’s usual practice.  The authors state that antepartum infections can be excluded and that any neonatal infections probably occurred via postnatal horizontal transmission in the family setting.  16/61 families reported parental symptoms consistent with COVID-19 within 2 weeks postpartum (one or both parents), although only 5/16 symptomatic families had COVID-19 confirmed based on RT-PCR and antibody evidence.  3 infants of these 5 symptomatic PCR-positive families developed non-specific signs of infection, including fever, dyspnoea and compromised circulation, at 5, 10 and 26 days old, and were admitted to NICU.  Details of treatment are not supplied, but symptoms resolved for all 3 within a few days.  Blood cultures and tests for non-SARS-CoV-2 viruses were negative.  2/3 symptomatic neonates had PCR positive faeces (one of these still had PCR positive faeces at 4-5 weeks) and 1 asymptomatic neonate also had PCR positive faeces at 4-5 weeks. None of the 3 SARS-CoV-2 PCR positive neonates nor the uninfected neonates had elevated or even borderline antibodies [note that there is some minor disparity between results summarised in the text and the detailed figure showing results in individual families].  Only one mother had IgG-positive breast milk (serum IgG also positive at 4-5 weeks, serum IgA negative, PCR positive at 1 week but not at 4-5 weeks, infant symptomatic at day 5 with negative faecal PCR at 1 week/4-5 weeks and negative serum IgG/IgA at 4-5 weeks).  

Small cohort <10 children and Single Case Reports

Ji L, Chao S, Want Y et al. Clinical features of pediatric patients with COVID-19: a report of two family cluster cases. World J Pediatr. 2020 Mar 16. doi: 10.1007/s12519-020-00356-2. [Epub ahead of print] https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/ s12519-020-00356-2

This is a review of two confirmed paediatric cases of COVID-19 (both from oropharyngeal swabs) from two family clusters with recent travel to Wuhan. One child presented with fever and the other with diarrhoea.

Case one: 15-year-old boy presenting with a one-day history of fever. Clinical features: Temperature 37.9oC, pharyngeal congestion. Normal lung auscultation. Laboratory findings: mildly elevated white cell count at 11.82 x109/L, predominantly neutrophils (67.3%) and 25.7% lymphocytes. His CRP was mildly elevated at 35 mg/L. Radiological findings: normal unenhanced CT chest. Outcome: Symptomatic treatment. Symptoms disappeared after two days. Family information: both parents also tested positive for SARSCoV2.

Case two: 9-year-old boy presented with mild diarrhoea but no cough and no fever. Normal examination. Laboratory findings: normal white cell count and normal CRP. Radiological findings: normal unenhanced CT chest. Outcome. Treated with oral probiotic and symptoms disappeared after 2 days. Family information: Family members had negative COVID-19 swabs but were symptomatic. His mother presented with fever and cough with bilateral peripheral ground glass opacifications on CT chest. The child’s father and two-year old sister had normal CT chests but had mild symptoms consistent with COVID-19: his father had a cough for four days and his twoyear-old sister had a transient two-day low-grade fever.

Liu W, Zhang Q, Chen J, et al. Detection of Covid-19 in Children in Early January 2020 in Wuhan, China. N Engl J Med 2020;:NEJMc2003717. doi:10.1056/ NEJMc2003717

This letter to the editor describes a case series from Tongji hospital in Wuhan, China, taken from a cohort of 366 hospitalized children between January 7th and 15th 2020. 6 children were PCR Positive for COVID-19. Of the 6 patients, age range 1-7 years. All had fever >39oC, cough and 4/6 had vomiting. All had lymphocytopenia, with 4/6 leukopenia and 3/6 with neutropenia. One child  required an ICU admission, receiving pooled donor IVIG. The median recovery time was  7.5 days. Authors surmise COVID-19 occurs in children with some moderate-severe episodes of illness.

Pan X, Chen D, Xia Y, et al. Asymptomatic cases in a family cluster with SARS-CoV-2 infection, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 2020, https://doi. org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30114-6.

This case study looks at another family cluster of COVID-19 involving asymptomatic patients. It involved a 3yr old boy who was positive for SARS-CoV-2 despite having no symptoms, normal bloods and a normal CT.

Wei M, Yuan J, Liu Y, Fu T, Yu X, Zhang Z. Novel Coronavirus Infection in Hospitalized Infants Under 1 Year of Age in China. Published online February 14, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.2131

This is a case series of, from Dec 8 2019 to Feb 6 2020, from China of 9 infants – all of whom had been hospitalised. Clinical presentation: 4/9 fever, 2/9 mild URTI symptoms, 1/9 were asymptomatic. All had family members that were COVID-19 positive. There were no severe complications or ICU admissions.

Jiehao Cai, Jing Xu, Daojiong Lin et al, A Case Series of children with 2019 novel coronavirus infection: clinical and epidemiological features, Clinical Infectious Diseases, ciaa198, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa198

This retrospective study examines 10 children diagnosed with confirmed COVID-19 between 19th Jan and 3rd February 2020 at the Children’s hospital in Shanghai. The age range is from 3 months to 11 years. None had comorbidities. There were no severe cases.

Clinical features: The assumed incubation period (time from exposure to index case to developing symptoms) was between 2 – 10 days, but median (and mode) 7 days. With regard to symptoms, 7/10 had fever >38oC,  6/10 had a cough, 4/10 had a sore throat, 3/10 had nasal congestion, 2/10 had rhinorrhea and 2/10 were sneezing.

Radiology: The chest x-ray was normal in 6/10.  The rest had unilateral opacities.

Bloods: Lymphocyte counts were normal in 9/10, raised in one case. CRP ranged from 0.5mg/L to 35mg/L but was <10 for 7/10. Procalcitonin was normal (<0.25) in all children. 2 patients had a mild elevation of ALT (100U/L) or AST (142U/L and 51U/L)

Detection of SARS-CoV-2: Virus was found in NP/throat swabs in all patients, and the duration of shedding ranged from 6-22 days (Median 12 days). Stool shedding was prolonged, over 30 days in one patient. No urine was positive, and no serum positive.

Xu X-W, Wu X-X, Jiang X-G, et al. Clinical findings in a group of patients infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-Cov-2) outside of Wuhan, China: retrospective case series BMJ 2020; 368 :m606

This study looks at a group of 62 patients with COVID-19 in a province outside of Wuhan (Hubei). 2 of these were children, aged 10 and 11. There is a lot of clinical data in the paper but it is not broken down by age, so we cannot make any inference on behalf of the paediatric patients.

Kai-Qian Kam, Chee Fu Yung, Lin Cui et al, A Well Infant with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) with High Viral Load, Clinical Infectious Diseases, ciaa201, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa201

This was a case report of a single 6-month-old with a positive nasopharyngeal swab until D16 of admission to hospital. There had been household transmission. There was a positive NPA with rt-PCR on D1 of admission although the child was asymptomatic – daily swabs remained positive until D17. The child was febrile once during the course of admission although they remained asymptomatic. Blood and stool tests were positive on D2.  They had essentially normal investigations except for a neutropenia.

Cui Y, Tian M, Huang D, et al. A 55-Day-Old Female Infant infected with COVID 19: presenting with pneumonia, liver injury, and heart damage. J Infect Dis Published Online First: 17 March 2020. doi:10.1093/infdis/jiaa113

This is a case report of a 55 day old with SARS-CoV-2 who was admitted to hospital in China on February 2, 2020. She was treated with inhaled intereron-alpha-1b, amoxicillin, reduced glutathione, ursodeoxycholic acid, and traditional Chinese medicine lotus qingwen. The child was initially well, although her respiratory status worsened on day 2-6, and she required supplemental oxygen via nasal cannulae. Anal swabs on day 11 and 13 were positive on day 11-13 despite negative pharyngeal swabs.

Note is made in the title of this study that the infant sustained liver injury and heart damage. This is on the basis of marginally elevated liver tranaminases and cardiac troponin measurements, for which it is unclear why the tests were performed. There is no indication of any clinical compromise demonstrated. It should be noted that a significant proportion of the child’s care (including investigations) would not be considered standard practice in UK/US/Aus paediatric medicine.

Paret M, Lighter J, Pellett Madan R, Raabe VN, Shust GF, Ratner AJ. SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19) in febrile infants without respiratory distress [published online ahead of print, 2020 Apr 17]. Clin Infect Dis. 2020;ciaa452. doi:10.1093/cid/ciaa452

This is a case series of two infants presenting with fever to a hospital in New York during on week in March 2020. Neither presented with respiratory symptoms, and both had Sars Cov2 infection confirmed without other aetiology despite febrile infant work ups. 

First; a 25-day old full-term male infant, presented with fever, irritability and facial rash. Parents had sore throat and subjective fever but had not sought medical attention for themselves. Full routine work up with CSF, blood, urine samples and routine respiratory PCR panel was taken. SARS CoV2 PCR positive on nasal swab.  Treated empirically until cultures negative at 48 hours, recovered well. 

Second; a 56-day old ex 35-week male infant, presents with fever only. He had no other symptoms, and no sick contacts. Bloods, urine and routine respiratory PCR panel was taken. Infant did not have lumbar puncture. SARS CoV2 PCR was positive on nasal swab. Treated empirically until cultures negative at 36 hours. 

Authors discuss the need to maintain high index of suspicion for SARS-CoV-2 infection in febrile infants during a community outbreak, and the importance of strict infection control measures in paediatric emergency department. 

Zhu, L., J. Wang, R. Huang, L. Liu, H. Zhao, C. Wu and C. Zhu (2020). “Clinical characteristics of a case series of children with coronavirus disease 2019.” Pediatr Pulmonol 8th April 2020 https://doi.org/10.1002/ppul.24767

This is a case series of ten paediatrics patients aged 1 – 17 years with confirmed Covid 19. These cases were retrospectively selected from 3 hospitals in Jiangsu, a coastal province approx 700 km east of Wuhan. Cases were collect from 24th January 2020 to 22nd February 2020. All cases were confirmed by RT-PCR anal or throat swabs. 70% of children presented with symptoms, and 30% were asymptomatic, but were screened due to contact with confirmed family member.

The most common symptoms on presentation were fever (40%), cough, (20%) and headache (20%). There was no report of whether children had underlying conditions. All children had a CT chest completed. Half of the cohort had CT changes. There were 2 cases of bilateral pneumonia, and 3 cases of unilateral pneumonia, 2 of which were in asymptomatic patients.  Bloods were unremarkable, one child aged 1 year had Lymphocytosis, all others had normal lymphocyte counts. CRP was not raised in any child. Only one patient in the cohort required oxygen, and there were no ICU admissions. Five children were treated with antiviral medication including lopinavir/ritonavir (n=4) interferon α‐2b (n = 4), and oseltamivir (n = 1). 

Of note, 5 children were still in hospital at the end of the case series. 

Canarutto, D., A. Priolo, G. Russo, M. Pitea, M. C. Vigone and G. Barera (2020). “COVID-19 infection in a paucisymptomatic infant: Raising the index of suspicion in epidemic settings.” Pediatr Pulmonol. https://doi.org/10.1002/ppul.24754

This early single case report from Milan, Italy describes an infant with a mild case of COVID-19 who recovered without need for intervention. His father, the implied household index, had an upper airway infection with conjunctivitis without confirmatory testing.
Patient: 32 day old boy, presented to hospital symptomatic
Clinical Features: Cough, fever, rhinitis
Radiology: CXR normal
Bloods: reactive lymphocytes on film, monocytosis (1400/L) and neutrpenia (900/uL), CRP normal
Outcomes: Resolution of fever by day 3 of hospitalisation, full recovery without need for supportive therapy. Breast feeding maintained.

Shen Q, Guo W, Guo T, Li J, He W, Ni S, Ouyang X, Liu J, Xie Y, Tan X, Zhou Z. Novel coronavirus infection in children outside of Wuhan, China. Pediatric pulmonology. 2020 Apr 7.p1-6 DOI: 10.1002/ppul.24762

This retrospective study examines the clinical characteristics of children admitted to Public Health centre of Changsha, Hunan, China. There were 9 children admitted during the study period 08/01/2019 and 19/02/2020 who tested positive for COVID-19. All had a confirmed contact case with COVID-19. Median age was 8 years, with a minimum age 1 year and oldest was 12 years. Children were predominantly female (6/9, 66%). There was no information provided about co-morbidities.   

Clinical features: 2/9 were asymptomatic, 1/9 had cough, 4/9 had fever, 1/9 had sore throat and 2/9 had diarrhoea. 

Radiology: 2 patients had chest CT that were described as ground glass opacities. No further information was provided about the indications.   

Bloods: 1/9 had lymphocytosis in whom other infectious causes were excluded. 1/9 had raised CRP, 4/9 raised ESR, 1/9 raised LDH, 2/9 had raised AST with 0/9 ALT abnormalities. All abnormalities were mild. 

Treatments: All (9/9) children were treated10/2.5 mg/kg lopinavir/ritonavir twice daily, orally. 5/9 children received 10 mg/kg azithromycin once a day. One child received meprednisone and immune globulin therapy for febrile convulsion. No additional information regarding treatments were provided.  

All children required oxygen therapy. None required intensive care or mechanical ventilation.

Outcomes: At the end of data collection 3/9 remained under hospital care and were positive for COVID-19. The remainder (6/9) were discharged from hospital. The time spent in hospital varied between 11 and 22 days (median 13.5 IQR 10.75-14 days). 

Other salient features: 6/9 children were RT-PCR negative at discharge. The time between initial contact and a negative test varied between 9 and 20 days (median 13.5 IQR 10.75-14 days).  

All averages were calculated by the reviewer from the data provided within the article. 

Han, Y. N., Z. W. Feng, L. N. Sun, X. X. Ren, H. Wang, Y. M. Xue, Y. Wang and Y. Fang (2020). “A comparative-descriptive analysis of clinical characteristics in 2019-Coronavirus-infected children and adults.” J Med Virol. 6th April 2020. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25835

This retrospective study compares the clinical characteristics of 25 adults and 7 children with acute respiratory disease confirmed as COVID-19. Cases were retrospectively identified from patients admitted to Xian Eighth Hospital in Shaanxi, China, between 31st January and 16th February 2020. The mean age of the children was 1.3 years with a range of 2 months to 13 years, and 4 (57%) were male. None had any co-morbidities.

Clinical features: 5/7 (71%) children had cough, 3/7 (43%) had shortness of breath, 5/7 (71%) had fever, 1/7 (14%) had sore throat and 4/7 (57%) had diarrhoea and/or vomiting.

Radiology: 5/7 (71%) children had “positive findings suggestive of pneumonia” reported on CXR and/or CT. Examples of these findings were ground glass opacities and segmental consolidation in bilateral lung fields, particularly peripherally.

Bloods: No children had a low lymphocyte count (<0.8). Raised lymphocyte counts were not mentioned but raised WCC was reported in 2/7 (29%) children. 2/7 (29%) had a raised CRP (>10). 4/7 (57%) had a raised AST (>50) or ALT (>37). 5/7 (71%) had increased Brain Natriuretic Peptide (>125). 4/7 (57%) had a raised CK Isoenzyme (>30).

Outcomes: All 7 cases in children were classified as mild and recovered within 1-2 weeks. None of the children were admitted to intensive care and none died.

Comparison of clinical characteristics in adults and children: Children were more likely than adults to have diarrhoea and/or vomiting (57% vs. 8%, p=0.012). Adults more frequently had a reduced WCC, compared to a raised WCC in children, and raised CK isoenzyme was less common in adults.

Kamali Aghdam M, Jafari N, Eftekhari K. Novel coronavirus in a 15-day-old neonate with clinical signs of sepsis, a case report [published online ahead of print, 2020 Apr 1]. Infect Dis (Lond). 2020;1–3. doi:10.1080/23744235.2020.1747 634 Accessed from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23744235.2 020.1747634 on 4th April

This brief case report from Iran is of a 15 day old male from Mousavi Hospital in Zanjan, Iran. Date of admission was not available. Symptoms were fever and lethargy with his parents having fever and cough. He initially appeared tachycardic and febrile with sats of 93% on RA. He was given Vancomycin, Amikacin and Oseltamivir. SARS-CoV-2 was detected on RT-PCR. His parents were not tested as they did not meet the testing criteria at the time (hospitalisation). 

Radiology: Chest X-ray had nil findings

Bloods: WCC 6.7, Lymphocytes 36%, Neutrophils 42% and CRP 1 (normal). 

Comorbidities: There was an incidental finding of patent foramen ovale on Echo. 

Outcome: He had improvement by day 2 of admission and was cleared for discharge on day 6.

Su L, Ma X, Yu H, et al. The different clinical characteristics of coronavirus disease cases between children and their families in China – the character of children with COVID-19. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2020;9(1):707–713. doi:10.10 80/22221751.2020.1744483

This study from the Jinan Infectious Disease Hospital retrospectively reviewed cases of nucleic acid-positive SARS-CoV-2 patients between 24th January to 24th February 2020 (detected using the (ORF1ab/N) nucleic acid detection kit by Bio-germ, Shanghai, China). Nine children and members of their family totalling 14 adults were included. Note that two family members missed enrollment as they were at another hospital. Of the 9 children, 6 were female (66%). The age group ranged from 11 months to 9 years and 9 months old (mean age 4.5 years).  For eight of the nine children, there was history of their parents having travelled frequently, being in contact with someone from Wuhan or having worked or visited Wuhan.  Of note, five of the discharged children were readmitted to hospital because their stool showed positive results in SARS-CoV-2 PCR. 

Clinical Features (children): 3 of the 9 children had fever (33%) and one had cough (11.2%). Imaging (children): On chest x-ray and CT, two children had findings consistent with bronchitis (22.2%), one had bronchial pneumonia (11.1%) and a further one had pulmonary consolidation and ground glass opacity. From the two example images included,, findings appear to be bilateral but this was not specified in the body of the text. Bloods (children): 8 of 9 children (88.9%) had normal or decreased white blood cell counts. Six children (66.7%) had increased CK-MB. ALT, AST. All children had a normal CRP, PCT, ESR and IL-6. Clinical Features (adults): Of the 14 adults, 8 (57.1%) had fever, five had cough (35.7%), three had chest tightness or pain (21.4%), a further three had fatigue (21.4%) and one reported a sore throat (7.1%). Imaging (adults):  Ten (71.4%) had abnormal imaging mainly pulmonary consolidation, with 7 (50%) having nodular shadow and 7 (50%) having ground glass opacities. Bloods (adults): Four (28.6%) had reduced whice cell count with seven (50%) having lymphocytopaenia. 

Lou XX, Shi CX, Zhou CC, et al. Three children who recovered from novel coronavirus 2019 pneumonia. J Paediatr Child Health Published Online First: 22 March 2020. doi:10.1111/jpc.14871

This is a case series of 3 children diagnosed with COVID-19 and admitted in the Zhengzhou University Children’s hospital in Henan Province, China (dates not provided). They were 2 sisters aged 6 and 8yrs, and a 6m old infant. The children were all infected by a family member, although the family of the 6m infant had no link to Wuhan.

Clinical features: All 3 had a fever, 2 had nasal congestion and rhinitis alongside fatigue, diarrhoea, and headache. The 6yr old girl had a cough. 

Radiology: All 3 patients had CT scans with bilateral infiltrates

Bloods: Not reported

Outcomes: No children required intensive care/intubation or had any severe complications. All have been discharged. The 2 sisters were treated with nebulized interferon.

Top Papers on Co-morbidities

Mixed co-morbidities

Issitt R, Booth J, Bryant W, Spiridou A, Taylor A, DuPre P, Ramnarayan P, Hartley J, Borja MC, Moshal K, Dunn H. Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in children at a specialist centre: outcome and implications of underlying high-risk comorbidities in a paediatric population. medRxiv. 2020 Jan 1. Doi https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.20.20107904

A retrospective cohort study published by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), London, UK suggested children who are defined as vulnerable in the COVID-19 pandemic era do not appear to be at significantly increased risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19. In addition, the vulnerable group have similar outcomes to those who are COVID-19 negative. However, the authors do identify children undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy are ‘over-represented’ in the vulnerable group.

Data was collected from the institution’s electronic health record system. The inclusion criteria were any patient admitted between 01/03/2020 and 15/05/2020 who was admitted with features suggestive of COVID-19 based on the attending clinician’s interpretation, of undefined grade, including fever, cough and “systemic symptoms”. Children were defined as COVID-19 positive by a positive PCR test for nucleic acid in respiratory or blood specimens performed at the referring or presenting hospital or a documented positive familial test. Patients were classified as vulnerable if they fulfilled the high risk shielded list from NHS digital or the institutions local policy that was not provided. Due to the nature of the specialist paediatric services the population of children were highly selected.

166 children fulfilled the criteria; 65 (38.7%) were COVID positive and 101 (60.8%) were negative. The average age for COVID positive group was 9 years [IQR 0.9-14] with 38 (58.5%) males. This compared to the COVID-19 negative group with an average age of 1 year [0.1-5.75], 58 (55.4%) male. The COVID-19 positive patients were significantly older (p<0.001). Differences in ethnicity frequency was statistically significant for Asian ethnicity: 12 (8.5%) COVID-19 positive compared to 6 (5.9%) in the COVID-19 negative group (p=0.02).

The number of vulnerable children who were COVID-19 positive totalled 31 (47.7%) compared to 73 who were COVID-19 negative (72.3%), demonstrating a lower number of vulnerable children were positive for COVID-19, (p=0.002).    

Clinical features: Breakdown of symptoms were not provided

Radiology: N/A

Bloods (For those COVID-19 positive):

ALT 41.5 U/L [IQR 29-74], Albumin 32 g/L [IQR 27-36], AntiDNAse 310U/mL [80.8-402], AntiStreptolysin O 285 IU/mL [134-384], AST 70 U/L [43-100], CRP 28 mg/L [10-74], CK 63.5 U/L [35-214], Creatinine 23 umol/L [14-46], D-dimer 1876 ug/L [1043-3618], Ferritin 788 ug/L [445-1863], Fibrinogen 3.65 g/L [2.4-4.8], Interleukin-6 50 pg/ml [50-152], Interleukin-10 50pg/mL, LDH 848 U/L [654-1136],  BNP 3550 pg/ml [626-6992], Lymphocytes 1.44 X10^9/L [0.64-2.49], Neutrophils 3.90X10^9/L [1.46-8.6], WBC 8X10^9/L [3.38-13.2], Troponin I 54 ng/L [13-157], Prothrombin time 12 seconds [11.3-13],  bilirubin 6 umol/L [3-10], Triglycerides 2.48 mmol/L [1.65-3.56].

The results highlight the difference in results between the COVID positive and negative groups but do not define further differences between vulnerable and non-vulnerable groups. These include a statistically higher average CRP (p=0.002, fibrinogen (p<0.001), albumin (p0.02) neutrophil (p<0.001) and white blood cell count (p<0.001) and a lower LDH (p=0.002),

Treatments: Patient were treated following national or speciality specific guidance. No further information was provided.

Outcomes: Mortality for those who were COVID-19 was 1 (1.5%) who was in the vulnerable group. Additional comments described the primary focus of treatment was aspiration pneumonia. This compared to 4 (4%) in the non-COVID-9 group, all of whom were in the vulnerable group. The difference in mortality rates was not statistically significant.

There was no difference in the proportion of vulnerable patients based on their COVID-19 status: 61% of vulnerable patients who were COVID-19 positive compared to 64.3% who were negative, (p = 0.84). Overall, comparing all patients, a significantly lower proportion of COVID-19 positive patients required mechanical ventilation (27.7%) than COVID-19 negative patients (57.4%), (p<0.001). The individual number of patients were not provided.

The average ICU length of stay for those with COVID-19 was 4 days [2.4-10.6]. For those in the vulnerable subgroup the average was 11 days [3.7-15.1]. The significance of the difference between the vulnerable and non-vulnerable group was not described. However, vulnerable non-COVID-19 patients had a 6 [2.8-12.2] day stay in ICU. The difference between vulnerable COVID-19 positive and negative groups demonstrated no significance (p=0.3). 

The average total hospital stay for vulnerable patients with COVID-19 was 16.2 days [3.8-20.8]. This compared to vulnerable COVID-19 negative patient were in hospital for 12.3 days [5.2-19.8]. The difference in duration was not significant (p=0.94). 

Other salient features: Breaking down conditions that comprises vulnerable children there was a significant increased number of children with cancer undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy who were admitted to hospital with symptoms and COVID-19 positive status compared to with symptoms but COVID-19 negative [7 VS 3 (p=0.01)].  There was no statistical differences between the COVID-19 positive and negative categories with on the national transplant, transplant medication, haematological cancer, respiratory and rare genetic, metabolic and autoimmune conditions lists or local severe respiratory conditions, rare diseases immunosuppressive therapies and other potential factors lists.

Oncology

Gampel, B. Troullioud Lucas, AG. Broglie, T. et al. (2020 Jun 26). “COVID-19 disease in New York City pediatric hematology and oncology patients.” Pediatr Blood Cancer: e28420. June 26th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1002/pbc.28420

This retrospective observational study provides some insight into the impact of COVID-19 on haematology/oncology patients. There were some limitations in the data collection process as testing was performed for different reasons at the two different sites that are considered. However, we see that between 10/03/2020 – 06/04/2020,  19 out of 174 tested children (each of whom had underlying haematological/oncological disorder or were undergoing haematopoietic stem cell transplantation) tested positive for COVID-19. Of these, 11 required hospitalisation. Five required PICU and one sadly died.


Method of data collection: All patients 21 years old or younger who underwent clinical laboratory COVID‐19 testing at two New York haem/onc centres were included. All patients had underlying haematological/oncological disorder or were undergoing haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Informed consent was waived.


The two centres tested differently: “MSK tested all symptomatic patients and screened all patients prior to admission, procedures requiring sedation, and planned myelosuppressive chemotherapy. NYP tested only those patients for whom a positive test would alter management, including those who were symptomatic, likely COVID‐19 exposed, or with planned disposition to a chronic care facility.”
Features specific to children:19 out of 174 tested positive. Of these: 68% had fever, 47% had cough and 37% had dyspnea. 11 patients required hospitalisation and 4 patients required supplemental oxygen. 2 patients required mechanical ventilation and a further 3 were also admitted to PICU (all male). 3 patients received ‘COVID-19-directed therapy’ (with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin)
1 patient died (“a child with sickle cell disease without a significant history of prior complications. Although this patient demonstrated pulmonary disease, his death may have been preceded by an acute cardiac event. Autopsy was refused…”). The authors make note that 64% of COVID+ oncology patients experienced treatment delays, showing the harms to these patients may not come primarily from COVID-19 disease itself

Ferrari, A., M. Zecca, C. Rizzari, F. et al (2020). “Children with cancer in the time of COVID-19: An 8-week report from the six pediatric onco-hematology centers in Lombardia, Italy.” Pediatr Blood Cancer: e28410. 

This letter to the editor describes the findings of 6 paediatric haematology and oncology centres in Lombardy during the 8 weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic began in Italy. Between 20th February 2020 and 15th April 2020. 286 patients were tested for COVID-19 when accessing services at these centres: 74 were symptomatic, 25 had close contact with a diagnosed case and 187 were tested for screening purposes. Of these, 21 cases tested positive for COVID-19, with a median age of 6 years (range 1-17 years) and 48% were male.

Of the 21 cases 10 had leukaemia, 5 had soft tissue or bone sarcoma, 2 had lymphoma, two had hepatoblastoma, 1 had a CNS tumour and 1 had colon carcinoma. 15 patients were currently receiving treatment while 6 had completed treatment and were receiving follow up.

Clinical features: 1 patient (who had existing neurological respiratory impairment) developed aspiration pneumonia requiring respiratory support, and 1 developed atypical bilateral pneumonia with mild symptoms.

Outcomes: There were no deaths related to COVID-19 infection. Cancer treatment was modified in 10 cases (delaying chemotherapy, reducing drug doses and postponing surgery).

The authors observe that despite the overwhelming rate of COVID-19 in the general population in the region at the time, relatively few paediatric cancer patients were symptomatic, or tested positive for the virus, and that severe illness was rare. They suggest that these results may indicate that paediatric anti-cancer treatments could continue without major adjustments, especially as alterations may reduce their efficacy.

Of note, these centres experienced a reduction in newly diagnosed cancer cases to 55% of the expected rate, which may reflect delayed access to healthcare services.

Boulad F, Kamboj M, Bouvier N, Mauguen A, Kung AL. COVID-19 in Children With Cancer in New York City. JAMA Oncol. Published online May 13, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.2028

This research letter reports the results of SARS-CoV-2 screening of patients and caregivers from one of the largest paediatric cancer centres in the US (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York) in a region with very high levels of community SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

From March 10th to April 12th 2020, inpatients and outpatients with either symptoms of or exposure to SARS-CoV-2 infection underwent RT-PCR testing. Asymptomatic patients were also tested prior to admission, deep sedation and or myelosuppressive chemotherapy, as were caregivers of children being admitted.

Overall 11% (20/178) of paediatric patients returned a positive SARS-CoV-2 result; including 29.3% in the symptomatic / exposed group and 2.5% in the asymptomatic group. In contrast 14.7% (10/76) of asymptomatic caregivers were positive. Despite close contact, 5 of the 10 children of caregivers with SARS-CoV-2 were uninfected.
Only 1 of the 20 paediatric patients required hospitalisation for COVID-19 symptoms, without need for critical care.

This data provides reassurance that children with cancer may not be more vulnerable to complications of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to other children. The lack of specific clinical detail in this report limits the ability to draw more definitive conclusions regarding risk.
The lower rate of asymptomatic carriage in children relative to their caregivers provides further evidence that children, including paediatric cancer patients, may be less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with adults.
Clearly infection control strategies must consider the risk of nosocomial spread from infected caregivers as well as paediatric patients, particularly in areas with high levels of community transmission.

Cesaro, S., F. Compagno, D. Zama, L. Meneghello, N. Giurici, E. Soncini, D. Onofrillo, F. Mercolini, R. Mura, K. Perruccio, R. De Santis, A. Colombini, A. Barone, L. Sainati, V. Baretta and M. G. Petris (2020). “Screening for SARS-CoV-2 infection in pediatric oncology patients during the epidemic peak in Italy.” Pediatr Blood Cancer: e28466, https://doi.org/10.1002/pbc.28466

Observational study of nasopharyngeal presence of SARS-CoV-2 in a cohort of 282 paediatric oncology patient presenting for scheduled care at 14 specialist centres in Italy between 20/02/20 and 19/04/20.  Median age for oncology cases (n=247) was 7 years (range 0-17.9) and for stem cell transplant (SCT) patients (n=35) was 9.6 years (range 0.3-17.6). 10/334 swabs from the oncology group were +ve and 0/56 from the SCT group. Only 2/10 NPS +ve patients had any symptoms (both “mild fever”). Chemotherapy was paused for all NPS +ve patients until 2 clear swabs were obtained 24 hours apart.  No adverse outcomes were recorded up to the study end but follow up was only reported up to 30/04/20. This study demonstrates that paediatric oncology patients can remain asymtomatic whilst carrying SARS-CoV-2 in the nasopharynx, and recover spontaneously, without any apparent increased rate of adverse outcomes. Researchers raise the question of whether routine chemotherapy needs to be paused for asymptomatic NP carriage of SARS-CoV-2 but present no evidence for the safety of this course of action.

Flores V, Miranda R, Merino L, et al. SARS-CoV-2 infection in children with febrile neutropenia [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jun 12]. Ann Hematol. 2020;1-2. doi:10.1007/s00277-020-04115-1

This letter to Annals of Hematology offers a brief description of three children with ALL who presented with febrile illness and were found to be SARS-CoV2 PCR positive. The letter is of note as sadly one of the children died during this illness following cardiac arrest; the authors offer the paper to highlight the occurrence of SARS CoV2 in febrile neutropenic patients; however it prompts further analysis of those cases of severe infection in the context of immunosuppression.

The patients were identified at a centre in Mexico however the time period is not known. The three patients were aged 4yrs, 8yrs and 9yrs. All had ALL, two receiving consolidation chemotherapy and one on immunosuppression with mycophenolate and prednisolone. The latter patient had undergone HSCT for ALL, the time since HSCT was not provided, however this patient was admitted from the community suggesting she wasn’t in the immediate post-transplant period. All patients developed neutropenia either at time of fever or quickly following it and similarly evolved to have ‘respiratory symptoms’. All had negative blood cultures however results of other virology is not provided. Over-all pre-covid health status is not provided within the letter and this might be helpful in understanding the severity of symptoms in the patient who died.

The child who died was 8 years old and presented with febrile neutropenia, they were on mycophenolate and prednisolone following HSCT for ALL. The child quickly developed respiratory distress and required invasive mechanical ventilation; a heamodynamic deterioration led to cardiac arrest and resuscitation measures failed.

The distinguishing features of this child was her immunosuppression and history of HSCT, she was also more profoundly lymphopenic and thrombocytopenic. All other laboratory values were variable between all three patients. Further information on her overall cardiorespiratory status pre-SARS-CoV-2 would be helpful to understand her vulnerabilities and to guide management of children presenting with similar comorbidities in the future.

Sieni, E. Pegoraro, F. Casini, T. Tondo, A. Bortone, B. Moriondo, M. Azzari, C. Galli, L. Favre, C. Favourable outcome of Coronavirus‐19 in a 1‐year‐old girl with acute myeloid leukaemia and severe treatment‐induced immunosuppression. British Journal of Haematology. 2020 May 5. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/bjh.16781

This retrospective single case report discusses the progression and treatment of a child with high risk acute myeloid leukaemia having undertaken the third chemotherapy cycle of the induction phase following AIEOP LAM 2013 protocol.

13-month-old female patient attended routine clinic at Myers Hospital, Florence, Italy following completion of the chemotherapy. Routine investigations revealed a low white cell count, haemoglobin and platelet count which necessitated admission for transfusions. The need for admission was the initial reason for testing for SARS-CoV-2. RT-PCR was performed for nasal and pharyngeal swabs. Faecal PCR testing was also positive.   

Clinical features: Fever starting on day 3 (the combination of fever and low WCC suggested neutropenic sepsis), vomiting and diarrhoea with negative stool culture.

Radiology: CXR on day 3 showed bilateral reticular markings. A repeat prior to discharge demonstrated “no significant modification from baseline”.

Bloods: Day 0 showed low WCC (80/mmc), haemoglobin (7.9g/dL) and platelet (5000/mmc) count. The elevated CRP was highest at day 5 (7.2mg/dL) and normalised by day 10 (<0.5mg/dL). Additional laboratory investigations included LDH which was highest by day 13 (401  IU/L) and ferratin maximally raised on day 9 (3000 mg/mL). Immunoglobulins were low throughout the illness. On day 3 the results were: IgG 258 mg/dL, IgA 18.7 mg/dL, IgM 7 mg/dL. IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, TNFα and cardiac enzymes were normal.

Blood microbiology was negative.

Additional  laboratory  investigations, including  cytokines  (IL-1β,  IL-6,  IL-10  and  TNFα)  and  cardiac  enzymes,  were  normal;  lactate dehydrogenase  slightly  increased  (up  to  401  IU/L  at  day  13),  whereas  ferritin  values  showed moderate elevation from day 9

Treatments: Treatment for neutropenic sepsis with piperacillin-tazobactam and fluconazole was commenced on day 3 due to fever. Hydroxychloroquine day 3-11. On day 4 lopinavir/ritonavir stopping day 12

Outcomes: Was treated on a hospital ward without supplemental oxygen until discharge. 

Other features of interest: There was a undetectable viral plasma load by day 16, however nasal swab for SARS-CoV-2  remained positive beyond discharge at day 26. There is no data to suggest a negative test to publication date. 

It is unclear if the low WCC, anaemia and thrombocytopenia requiring transfusion was due to the chemotherapy, underlying acute myeloid leukaemia or COVID-19 infection, however, on discharge these values had normalised and were maintained by day 26.   

Summary: This case describes a high-risk young patient with acute myeloid leukaemia undergoing chemotherapy presenting with febrile neutropenia. Whilst the symptoms were initially vague, subsequent investigations suggested the underlying cause was SARS-CoV-2. Early anti-viral treatments were commenced. Given the patient’s immunosuppression the authors discuss fears regarding seroconversion, viral dissemination and inflammatory responses which did not occur.  

Hrusak, O., T. Kalina, J. Wolf, A. et al. (2020). “Flash survey on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 infections in paediatric patients on anticancer treatment.” European Journal of Cancer 132: 11-16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2020.03.021

This is the report of a data from an international survey of paediatric haematology and oncology clinicians to assess the frequency and severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst children with cancer. The survey, conducted from 16th-17th March 2020, had over 35 respondents from 25 countries. Of an estimated 10,000 patients at risk and over 200 tested, 9 children were positive for SARS-CoV-2. Clinical details are provided for 8 cases, 6 of whom had solid tumours and 2 with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. 7 had mild or asymptomatic disease, 1 patient required low flow oxygen. Fever was the presenting symptom in 6 patients and one patient also had diarrhoea. All 7 patients with outcome data available made a full recovery.

The interpretation of these data is clearly limited by the study design as well as the relatively early stage of the pandemic during which the survey was conducted. Notwithstanding these limitations, the absence of severe COVID-19 cases in this report provides some early reassurance. More detailed clinical studies are needed to draw firm conclusions about the risk of severe disease in children receiving chemotherapy.

D’Antiga L. (2020), Coronaviruses and immunosuppressed patients. The facts during the third epidemic. Liver Transpl. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1002/lt.25756

This letter is from a liver transplant centre in Lombardy, Italy, reporting their experience of patients (including children) with immunosuppression and COVID-19. They have had 3 children post liver transplant test positive for SARS-CoV-2, and none have developed clinical pulmonary disease. They believe due to the widespread nature of infection that many other of their patients may also be infected, but not developed clinically apparent disease.

This provides the first official reports of vulnerable paediatric populations with COVID-19, which so far does not appear to be any more severe than the rest of the population in that age bracket. Further data is awaited.

Balduzzi, A, Brivio, E, and Rovelli, A et al, Lessons After the Early Management of the COVID-19 Outbreak in a Pediatric Transplant and Hemato-Oncology Center Embedded within a COVID-19 Dedicated Hospital in Lombardia, Italy. Estote Parati. (Be Ready.) (3/19/2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn. com/abstract=3559560 or https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3559560

This report from a paediatric haematology unit in Lombardia, Italy, includes the Italian experience of COVID-19 in children with malignancy so far. At their particular unit, they have had no children with malignancy test positive for COVID-19 (they admit this is dependent on testing criteria, requiring hospitalisation at their institute). They are aware of 5 cases of paediatric cancer patients who have had COVID-19 and have all suffered a mild course, with 3 managed at home and 2 in hospital.

This small case series provides further reassurance for at risk paediatric populations.

Cardiac disease

Lee, H., B. S. Mantell, M. E. Richmond, S. P. Law, W. A. Zuckerman, L. J. Addonizio, T. M. Lee and I. D. Lytrivi (2020). “Varying Presentations of COVID-19 in Young Heart Transplant Recipients: A Case Series.” Pediatr Transplant: e13780. https://doi.org/10.1111/petr.13780

This is a peer reviewed prepublication case report on the experience of Covid-19 among a population of young heart transplant patients from a tertiary centre, Columbia University Irving Medical Centre, New York.

Period Covered: first 3 months of the New York Covid pandemic

Hospital/Region Covered: the tertiary transplantation programme is one of the largest in the USA covering “hundreds” of patients.

Identification of Patients: 4 patients under the care of the hospital for heart transplantation are included. Case 1 was admitted after referral from secondary care with Covid symptoms and an oxygen requirement.. Cases 2 and 4 presented from home and case 3 was diagnosed during a planned admission for heart biopsy.

Age/Gender:  there is a wide age range: case 1 (F)15 years, case 2 (F)25 years, case3 (M)13 months, case 4(F) 29 months.

Comorbidities and immunosuppression: The authors highlight the questions of whether the comorbidities (including immunosuppression) associated with heart transplantation lead to worse outcomes with Covid infection? Also whether immunosuppression has a protective or aggravating effect on outcome and how regimes should be managed?

Two patients (1 and2)also had renal transplants. Case 2 had connective tissue disease (elevated IL-2).

All patients were on various combinations of immunosuppressants (1,2 and 3 on steroids).In only one case (1) was this withheld during infection because of neutropenia.

Clinical Features: 3 patients (1,2,3) had  symptoms of acute Covid-19 and were nasal/nasopharyngeal positive. Case 1 required supplemental oxygen but no other treatment for 3 days and was then discharged.Cases 2 and 3 did not require admission. Cough: 3/3. Fever: 3/3.Sore throat: 1/3. Abdominal pain: 1/3. All remained well on follow up.

Patient 4 is likely to have had Covid-19 4 weeks prior to admission (symptoms and family history). She presented with a probable post Covid anaemia and hepatitis. She had a rash (acral papular) She was negative on nasal and hepatic Covid assay. Her liver biopsy was consistent with viral hepatitis. Her Covid serology was positive and other viral hepatitis serology negative. She received a blood transfusion

Reported Imaging: CXR:1/4. Normal. Cardiac echo:2/4. No deterioration.

Laboratory: Case1: WCC low 1460/ul, neutropenia (800/ul). ?secondary to immunosuppression or Covid.  Elevated inflammatory markers: CRP, ferritin.  D-dimer, pro- BNP elevated.

Case 2:  no report. Case 3: normal FBC, CRP and LFTs.

Case 4: Hb 6.2 g/dl. Peak ALT elevated 1807 U/L. Peak AST 1070 U/L.

Comment: The centre maintains surveillance (telehealth) of most of it’s patients. Despite possible risk factors of comorbidities and immunosuppression only 4 cases presented. In the acute cases the illness was either mild (2,3) or moderate (1). This is the first report from a paediatric transplant centre and it will be necessary to examine the experience in other centres worldwide.

Case 4 developed hepatitis, anaemia and a rash 4 weeks after probable Covid infection. It is possible that this was Covid related.  Viral hepatitis has been reported in a child post liver transplant with acute Covid infection.

Respiratory disease

Poli, P., S. Timpano, M. Goffredo, R. Padoan and R. Badolato. “Asymptomatic case of Covid-19 in an infant with cystic fibrosis.” Journal of Cystic Fibrosis, April 14th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcf.2020.03.017

This is the first case report of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in a child with cystic fibrosis. The 1 month-old, from Italy, was diagnosed with CF on newborn screening. SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed on nasopharyngeal swab PCR as part of contact tracing following exposure to COVID-19 through his grandfather.
The infant remained asymptomatic throughout follow up and did not require hospital admission.
This is one of a limited number of reports of SARS-CoV-2 infection in people with CF. A better understanding of the course of illness in this group will likely emerge with data from ongoing collaborative studies.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Turner D, Huang Y, Martín-de-Carpi J, et al. COVID-19 and Paediatric Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Global Experience and Provisional Guidance (March 2020) from the Paediatric IBD Porto group of ESPGHAN [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 31]. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2020; doi:10.1097/MPG.0000000000002729

This article outlines the experience from Asia and Europe so far of children with inflammatory bowel disease given the COVID-19 pandemic. This is of particular interest because many of these children receive immunosuppression as part of their treatment, and so could be considered high risk for complications of the disease.

It appears to have been routine practice to suspend treatment for IBD during the outbreak of COVID-19, which resulted in a large number of relapses. No children with IBD contracted COVID-19 in China in the period covered by the survey.

In South Korea treatment for IBD was not suspended. They also have had no cases of COVID-19 in children with IBD.

In the PORTO IBD group of ESPGHAN (covering Europe, some centres in Canada and Israel) treatment was not suspended in 31/32 centres. 7 children with IBD, who were on immunosuppression, had COVID-19. They all suffered a mild illness with no flare of their IBD. There is an additional child case from an international IBD database identified who also experiences mild symptoms (no hospitalisation required).

This survey provides further reassurance that treatment with immunosuppression does not appear to significantly increase the risk of severe disease from COVID-19 in children.

Brenner, E. J., R. C. Ungaro, R. B. Gearry et al “Corticosteroids, but not TNF Antagonists, are Associated with Adverse COVID-19 Outcomes in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Results from an International Registry.” Gastroenterology https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2020.05.032

This is a pre-proof article and therefore has not yet undergone final editing and review.

This is an article from America (Carolina) aiming to characterise the clinical course of COVID-19 on patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and evaluate the association between demographics, clinical characteristics and immunosuppressant treatments of COVID-19 outcomes.

The authors created a surveillance database and healthcare providers were encouraged to voluntarily report all cases of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-confirmed COVID-19 patients with IBD.  A website was developed to enable international contributions. Contributors were asked to report cases a minimum of 7 days from symptom onset and after sufficient time had passed to observe disease course through to resolution of acute illness or death.

525 patients from 33 countries were reported. 7% had severe COVID-19, 31% were hospitalised, 3% of patients died.  The median age of patient was 41 years (from 5 to 90). The majority of patients had Crohns Disease (59.4%) and IBD disease activity was classed as remission in 58.9% of cases. The most common class of treatment was TNF antagonist therapy (43.4% of patients).

63.5% of patients had no comorbidities other than IBD. Most patients who died had other co-morbidities.  Only 3 paediatric patients (10% of paediatric cases) required hospitalization. After controlling for all other covariates use of systemic corticosteroids and ASA/sulfasalazine use were strongly associated with more serious outcomes after infection with COVID-19 but there was no significant association seen between TNF antagonist use and adverse outcomes.

The authors observed an age-standardized mortality ration of approximately 1.5-1.9 as compared to the general populations of China, Italy and the U.S.

They state it is reassuring that the most commonly used treatment- TNF antagonists- appears not to lead to increased adverse outcome for patients infected with COVID-19.

This study has strength in that it includes data from many countries although how comparable that data can be between countries is debatable. The authors did not look at dosing regimens or what was done in terms of continuing or postponing treatment which may well have varied from one country to another. There may also be some bias towards patients who were unwell enough to present to hospital, there may have been other patients who were infected but not unwell enough to require hospital treatment/testing  for COVID-19 who would not have been included in this study population.

Renal disease

Schwierzeck, V., J. C. Konig, J. Kuhn, A. Mellmann, C. L. Correa-Martinez, H. Omran, M. Konrad, T. Kaiser and S. Kampmeier (2020). “First reported nosocomial outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in a pediatric dialysis unit.” Clin Infect Dis, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa491

This paper presents the results of an outbreak investigation following a member of staff on a paediatric dialysis unit developing confirmed COVID-19. Detailed contact tracing was carried out and found that 48 cases in total were involved – this included 13 patients, 28 healthcare workers and seven ‘accompanying persons’. Of note, of the 3 traced who children tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, only one had symptoms; given these children’s high-risk status, their asymptomatic presentations are noteable. The paper discusses hygiene measures put in place to avoid further spread.

Transplant related disease

Lagana SM, De Michele S, Lee MJ, Emond JC, Griesemer AD, Tulin-Silver SA, Verna EC, Martinez M, Lefkowitch JH. COVID-19 Associated Hepatitis Complicating Recent Living Donor Liver Transplantation. Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. 2020 Apr 17. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2020-0186-SA.

This retrospective single case report examines the histopathological features of liver associated COVID-19 in a child admitted to Columbia University Medical Centre, USA. The female child, 6 months old, was admitted for a liver transplant for treatment of biliary atresia. COVID-19 was diagnosed in the donor on post-operative day 2 and confirmed in the patient day 4 post-operatively. The type of test used was not described.

Clinical features: Increased work of breathing requiring CPAP, fever and diarrhoea were developed on post-operative day 4.

Radiology: CXR on post-operative day 4 was described as “no significant changes compared to prior exam with only patchy areas of atelectasis in irregularly aerated lungs”. CXR on day 6 demonstrated “patchy lung opacities bilaterally, mildly increased in the right upper lobe and left lung base”.

Bloods: Deranged LFTs exacerbated from baseline on post-operative day 1: AST (maximum 908U/L from 163U/L), ALT (maximum 980U/L from 215U/L), GGT (maximum 473U/L from 174U/L), ALP (maximum 578U/L from 388U/L).

Treatments: Treated with hydroxychloroquine from day 4 post-operative. She required CPAP for an undefined time period. Undefined immunosuppressant treatment was provided for acute transplant rejection, however liver enzymes worsened when commenced.

Outcomes: Remains on a hospital ward without supplemental oxygen.

A liver biopsy was performed on post-operative day 7 demonstrating portal tract expansion through a mixed inflammatory infiltrate which consisted of lymphocytes, rare plasma cells, and interspersed eosinophils, lymphocytic cholangitis, reactive changes in the interlobular bile ducts and mild portal venulitis. These were interpreted as acute cellular rejection.

Other findings of moderate acute hepatitis including an “azonal pattern of clusters of apoptotic hepatocytes” and singly dispersed apoptotic hepatocytes. Other features of interest include large fragments of cytoplasmic debris described as “crumbling” hepatocytes, few mitotic figures, regions of Kupffer cell prominence with sinusoidal and central vein endotheliitis. The authors commented that the extent of hepatocyte apoptosis and large clusters were unusual and not a usual feature of acute cellular rejection (ACR). Central endotheliitis may also be a feature of COVID-19 hepatitis, with the presence of more Kupffer cells and less plasma cells than ACR.

Summary: COVID-19 hepatitis likely presents as a moderate acute hepatitis with prominent clusters of “crumbling” apoptotic hepatocytes. Other features may be lymphohistiocytic inflammation of sinusoidal and central vein endothelium, with the presence of more Kupffer and less plasma cells when compared to ACR.

Angeletti, A., A. Trivelli, A. Magnasco, S. Drovandi, F. Sanguineri, M. Santaniello, G. Ferrando, R. Forno, G. Cipresso, G. Tripodi, L. V. Riella, P. Cravedi and G. M. Ghiggeri (2020). “Risk of COVID-19 in young kidney transplant recipients. Results from a single-center observational study.” Clin Transplant. 2020 May 12. doi: 10.1111/ctr.13889. [Epub ahead of print]

Giannina Gaslini Children’s Hospital, Italy undertook this prospective observational study of patients, who received a kidney transplant between January 2010 and March 2020, with stable graft function and were taking chronic immunosuppressant therapy. They were interviewed weekly between 24th February and 12th April 2020 for 7 weeks, using a 12-point structure questionnaire contained in the appendix, to evaluate the health status of themselves and their cohabitants. The data for adults and children were combined presenting a median age of 20 (2-30) years. The demographics were reported as a combined total; 93 were male.

2 patients, an adult (information not included) and 1 girl aged 13, had co-habitants who were positive for SARS-CoV-2. The 13-year-old had a kidney transplant aged 9 years old. At the time of study, she was taking a combination of steroid, calcineurin inhibitor (CNI and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and had investigations including a white cell count and haemoglobin within normal limits.

She tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 using a nasopharyngeal swab (test not declared) and did not develop any symptoms in the subsequent 21 days, declared as the incubation period. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were also negative at an undefined time point.

Clinical features: No patients developed any clinical symptoms.

Radiology: None discussed.

Bloods: None discussed for patients who were positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Treatments: None.

Outcomes: None.

Other salient features: The authors recommend avoiding altering the immunosuppressive therapy in young transplant recipients who do not have symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 including those who are exposed to positive close contact. Despite observing a relatively large population of kidney transplant recipients, a small number, 2 (1 child) were exposed to SARS-CoV-2, upon which has the conclusions are based.

Morand, A., B. Roquelaure, P. Colson, S. Amrane, E. Bosdure, D. Raoult, J. C. Lagier and A. Fabre (2020). “Child with liver transplant recovers from COVID-19 infection. A case report.” Archives de Pediatrie. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arcped.2020.05.004

This a case report form France of a 2-and-a-half-year-old girl who recovered from COVID-19 infection, 5 months after a liver transplant; she had co-infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

The child had received a living donor transplant (father) as she had developed portal hypertension post Kasai portoentemrostoy performed at 53 days of age for biliary atresia.

She had been discharged home 20 days post procedure on tacrolimus immunosuppression therapy and had no immunization against EBV before transplantation.

On day 96 post transplant she was found to have primary EBV infection linked to the transplant- her father was EBV positive- but was asymptomatic of this.

The first developed rhinitis which developed into a fever, cough and tachypnoea.  In the few days before this her mother had been hospitalized with pneumonia and found to be COVID-19 positive on nasopharyngeal swab. On day three of the illness the child was referred to hospital where she was found to be positive for COVID-19 on NPA.

On admission she was tachypnoeic with no other signs of respiratory distress, her CRP was low (3). A chest CT showed focal alveolar condensation of the ligula and a stable mediastinal enlargement. Her liver function tests had deteriorated (GGT and AST). An US of the liver showed aggravation of the transplanted biliary tract stenosis and an elevated EBV blood viral load. She was managed symptomatically, and she did not receive any COVID-19 specific treatment.

She recovered from COVID-19 infection despite the high level of immunosuppression caused by her tacrolimus treatment.  NPA test samples became negative on day 11. The authors report they reduced the dose of tacrolimus but do not state at which point in the illness nor for how long. They do not state how long it took for her LFTs to return to previous levels nor if there were any consequences of the raised EBV viral load.

The authors suggest liver transplantation is not associated with COVID-19 symptom severity development even when there is high level immunosuppression on tacrolimus. Moreover COVID-19 and EBV co-infections do not seem to aggravate the clinical outcome.

It is difficult to draw conclusions based on one case study. Particularly as other studies have shown the severity of COVID-19 is increased when present with other co-morbidities. This particular patient, due to the nature of her original liver insult and the fact that she is a young patient, did not have other co-morbidities, this is often not the case for other patients who have required a liver transplantation.

 Other co-morbidities

Genovese, G., Colonna, C. and Marzano, A.V. (2020), Varicella‐like exanthem associated with COVID‐19 in an 8‐year‐old girl: A diagnostic clue?. Pediatr Dermatol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/pde.14201

This single case report describes an 8 year old girl presenting on a hospital in Milan, Lombardy region, Italy, on 21 March 2020 with a painless, non-pruritic papulovesicular rash on the trunk developing 3 days after onset of a mild cough. The rash was predominantly papular with  some vesicles with crusting, similar in appearance to chickenpox. Limbs, face, genitalia and mucous membranes were spared. She developed a mild fever 5 days after the onset of the rash, and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. She had bloods including FBC, renal function, liver function and CRP, all of which were normal with the exception of a mild thrombocytopenia with platelets of 105 x 109/L, which subsequently normalised. The rash lasted 7 days, by which time systemic symptoms had resolved. The young girl had a history of varicella infection a year previously.

The authors quote other case reports of cutaneous manifestations associated with COVID-19: petechial rash, widespread urticaria and varicella-like rash predominantly involving the trunk. Although unable to confirm that the rash was definitely associated with COVID-19, they feel it is likely given the child’s previous history of varicella infection and lack of pruritis to suggest the lesions were insect bites. They suggest papulovesicular eruptions be included in the spectrum of exanthems possibly associated with COVID-19.

Top 10 Epidemiological Papers on Transmission

Yung, C. F., Kam, K., Nadua, K. D. et al.  Novel coronavirus 2019 transmission risk in educational settings. Clinical Infectious Diseases. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa794

A study of contact tracing of 3 clusters of confirmed COVID-19 within schools in Singapore. Only close contacts of the affected students were placed into quarantine for 14 days, not complete year groups/schools/or classes. Target health measures implemented included terminal cleaning and interventions to reduce mixing (examples were cancelling of extra-curricular activities and staggered break times). For 3rd incident in day care, the school was closed due to increasing cases amongst staff, and all students were tested regardless of exposure/symptoms.

Case 1: 12yr male in secondary school infected at home (sibling of case 2). Attended on day 1 of symptom and subsequently quarantined. 8 classmates developed compatible symptoms, all tested negative.

Case 2: 5yr male in primary school. Attended on day 1 of symptoms and quarantined. 34 classmates developed compatible symptoms, all tested negative.

Case 3: Multiple adult staff members in pre-school involved in cluster. 70% of all students tested, all negative.

These findings are consistent with the small number of other studies of transmission within a school setting so far, which have demonstrated infrequent transmission from children.

Heavey, L., G. Casey, C. Kelly, D. Kelly and G. McDarby (2020). “No evidence of secondary transmission of COVID-19 from children attending school in Ireland, 2020.” Euro Surveill 25(21). May 28th 2020, https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.21.2000903

This is an epidemiological study describing cases of Covid-19 in Irish school setting in March 2020. Cases were identified by screening all cases of SARS-CoV-2 notified to public health departments in the Republic of Ireland, to identify children under the age of 18 years, and adults who had attended the school setting.

Six cases were identified, 3 school going children, and 3 adults (1 a teacher, and 2 who conducted educational session in a school). 5 out of 6 cases presented symptomatically with fever or cough, the final case was asymptomatic and screened due to a household cluster.  Contact-tracing records were reviewed to identify cases of secondary transmission.

A total of 1155 contact of these six cases were identified. In the school setting, among 924 child contacts and 101 adult contacts identified, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19. The only documented transmission that occurred from this cohort was from an adult case to other adults working environment outside school.

In conclusion no case of onward transmission to other children or adults within the school occurred. In the case of children, no onward transmission was detected at all.  Furthermore, no onward transmission from the three identified adult cases to children was identified.

Limitations of the study, was only symptomatic contacts were tested, and so asymptomatic secondary cases were not captured. Also, in Ireland, when a case was identified, all children and staff within the school were excluded thus limiting the potential for further transmission within the school setting once a case was identified. All Irish schools closed on March 12th 2020 and remain closed.

Somekh, E., A. Gleyzer, E. Heller, M. Lopian, L. Kashani-Ligumski, S. Czeiger, Y. Schindler, J. B. Lessing and M. Stein (2020). “The Role of Children in the Dynamics of Intra Family Coronavirus 2019 Spread in Densely Populated Area.” Pediatr Infect Dis J. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000002783

This is a brief study of the transmission dynamics within households in Bnei Brak, an area of Isreal with high population density and high proportion of young people (almost 50% of its population are <18yrs). They assessed 13 family clusters and tested every member of their households by PCR, regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms. The index case was identified by date of onset of symptoms (this is standard practice but does leave open the possibility of mis-classifying the index case if they were truly asymptomatic).

The results were as follows; Excluding index cases, 58.3% of adults tested positive, 32.5% of children aged 5 – 17 tested positive, and 11.8% of children aged <5yrs tested positive. In 12/13 families the index case was an adult. The other case was a 14yr old male.

This evidence is consistent with almost all other household contact tracing studies which have demonstrated a significantly lower secondary attack rate in children compared to adults. A strength is the clear documentation that all household members were tested regardless of symptoms, and for clarity the index case was not included in the rates of infection making secondary AR better defined.

Qin-Long Jing, Ming-Jin Liu, Jun Yuan et al, Household secondary attack rate of COVID-19 and associated determinants in Guangzhou, China: a retrospective cohort study, The Lancet, June 17th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30471-0

This is study from Guangzhou, China documenting the attack rate amongst 1964 close contacts and 134 secondary or tertiary cases of 215 confirmed COVID-19 cases from January 7th to February 18th 2020.

There were 103 non-primary cases amongst 784 household contacts giving an attack rate of 13.1% overall. Notably children (<20yo) had a lower non-primary household attack rate of 5.2%.
In statistical transmission modelling to estimate true secondary attack rates, children (<20yo) had a lower odds of infection compared with adults >60yo (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.11-0.46)

Only 10/215 (5%) of primary cases were children.

Although the criteria for testing contacts in this study are not entirely clear, the results suggests that children are less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with adults with similar exposure. This is in keeping with other reports from Asia (Zhang), Israel (Somekh) and the USA (Rosenberg).

Eli S Rosenberg, Elizabeth M Dufort, Debra S Blog et al. New York State Coronavirus 2019 Response Team, COVID-19 Testing, Epidemic Features, Hospital Outcomes, and Household Prevalence, New York State—March 2020, Clinical Infectious Diseases, ciaa549, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa549

This epidemiological study examined the first 229 positive cases diagnosed in New York State outside of the city of New York from 2nd March to 12th March 2020 and described their outcomes. In addition, from the 5th March to the 17th March, they screened any household contacts of the positive patient. There was one ‘source’ patient under 5 years of age and 7 ‘source’ patients from 5 to <18 years of age. Household screening identified a further 42 children with COVID-19. No children <18 years of age required hospitalisation but it appears they only had complete data on 18/50 positive children.

Household contact with positive patients of any age found that likelihood of the contact being positive for SARS-CoV-2 increased with the contact’s age. Of the 25 children screened <5 years of age, 5 (20%) were positive and of the 131 screened age 5 to <18 years 37 (28.2%) were positive, compared to 16/29 (55%) of contacts aged 65+ years (p 0.002). This supports previous studies which shows a lower prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children <18 years. Unfortunately it does not described whether the household contacts of the 50 source children were positive for the infection too which could contribute to the discussion about whether children spread SARS-CoV-2 as effectively as adults and would require completion of the missing data and more in-depth analysis of the findings.

Zhang J, Litvinova M, Liang Y, et al, Changes in contact patterns shape the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, Science, 29th April 2020, DOI: 10.1126/science.abb8001

This fascinating study assesses contacts and infection risk in China (Wuhan and Shanghai) using 3 arms:

Surveys conducted within cities studying contacts between individuals, finding that during lockdown all contact except for those within households ceased – backing up evidence that about 90% of infections during this period occurred by household transmission

Most importantly for us – an age stratified model of susceptibility to acquiring infection was produced by assessing the data from the Hunan CDC, whereby every positive case found in Hunan had recent contacts placed under quarantine for 14 days and was tested for COVID-19. They estimated odds ratios for age groups to become infected, and performed statistical adjustment for clustering and correlation structures of contacts exposed t the same index case (generalized linear mixed model regression). Their finding was that susceptibility to infection increased with age, lowest in children 0-14 years (OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.24 – 0.49 – reference participants aged 15 – 64yrs).

Finally using the above data they estimated the effects of non-pharmceutical interventions on reducing spread of COVID-19. They found that closing schools was likely to significantly impact the R0 but not enoght to be a useful measure on its own. They describe social distancing as implemented in China, to be a sufficient measure to control COVID-19

This is the latest, and one of the most comprehensive of a number of studies to demonstrate significantly lower attack rate in children to adults, suggesting decreased susceptibility to infection.

Li, W., B. Zhang, J. Lu, S. Liu, Z. Chang, P. Cao, X. Liu, P. Zhang, Y. Ling, K. Tao and J. Chen (2020). “The characteristics of household transmission of COVID-19.” Clinical infectious diseases: an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. 17. https://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa450/5821281

This retrospective study calculated secondary attack rates of COVID-19 amongst 392 household contacts of 105 SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positive index cases hospitalised at Zaoyang First People’s Hospital (250 km from Wuhan) and Chibi People’s Hospital (150 km from Wuhan) between 1st January and 20th February 2020.

Study design:  Households were eligible for the study if the index case was the only member of the household with a clear history of exposure to Wuhan, its residents or high-risk sites in the 14 days before onset of illness (the assumption then being that the only exposure of household contacts to SARS-CoV-2 was via the index case).  Once index cases were confirmed, household contacts were quarantined for 14 days in local government sites and monitored daily, with at least 2 nasopharyngeal swabs (taken at the beginning and mid-point of quarantine).  Variables analysed retrospectively in this study (using medical notes and telephone interviews) included household size, age/gender/symptoms of index cases and household contacts, time between onset of illness of the index case and hospitalisation (range 0-11 days) and spouse/non-spouse relationships. 

Key paediatric findings:  100 of the 392 household contacts were under 18 years of age (median 6.5 yrs, IQR 4-11 yrs); of these, only 4 children became infected (all male, 1 aged 0-5 yrs, 3 aged 6-17 yrs).  This secondary attack rate of 4% for children compares with 21% for the adult household contacts (60 out of 292 infected) and 16% overall (64 out of 392).

Of interest:  14 of the 105 index cases self-quarantined within the home immediately after onset of symptoms before hospitalisation (wearing masks, eating and residing separately from the rest of the household); in these households there was a 0% secondary attack rate, versus 18% in those households where the index case didn’t self-quarantine before hospitalisation.  In households where the index case was afebrile, 13% of household contacts became infected, versus 19% where the index case had fever.  In households where the index case had no cough, approximately the same proportion of household contacts became infected as in households where the index case had a cough (17% vs 16%).  9 of the infected household contacts were asymptomatic (14%), but this figure isn’t broken down by age in the article.  [Note: there are some discrepancies between calculations in the text and data tables; data from tables used here.

This article provides further reassurance to the growing body of evidence of lower attack rates of COVID-19 in children as compared to adults, as well as a signal that symptomatic patients are higher risk of transmitting the virus than those who do not develop symptoms.

Wang, Z., W. Ma, X. Zheng, G. Wu and R. Zhang (2020). “Household Transmission of SARS-CoV-2.” The Journal of infection. 10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf.2020.03.040

This is a retrospective case series of 85 patients admitted to Union Hospital in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and their households, one household per index case.  The aim was to attempt to determine the transmission rate of SARS-CoV-2 among household members.

All patients were confirmed infected with SARS-CoV-2 with real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays on throat swabs. The admission dates were February 13 and February 14, 2020. The city had been under lockdown measures since the 23rd of January.

The composition of these 85 households was 107 (45%) male adults, 115 (48%) female adults and 18 (7%) children.

64 (60%) of 107 male adults and 66 (58%) of 115 female adults were confirmed infected with SARS-CoV-2, only 2 (11%) of 18 children became positive. As a whole, there were totally 240 cases in these 85 households, with 132 (55%) of them were confirmed with SARS-CoV-2 infection and 57 (24%) cases were negative in RT-PCR assays.

The researchers found there was a secondary transmission rate of 30% and this increased to 50% for households with 2 contacts, they compared this to previous studies on other two coronavirus pneumonia epidemics which reported secondary transmission rates among household contacts of 5% for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and 10.2% for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). The researchers concluded this demonstrated the need for stringent quarantining of household contacts.

This research did have some limitations. The researchers did not clarify what criteria they were using to guide testing nor did they quantify exactly how long they followed up household contacts for. It reproduces similar studies which have found significantly lower attack rates in children.

Zhu Y, Bloxham CJ, Hulme KD, et al. Children are unlikely to have been the primary source of household SARS-CoV-2 infections. medRxiv 2020;:2020.03.26.20044826. doi:10.1101/2020.03.26.20044826

A pre-print, the information should be treated with caution until it has undergone peer review.

This study includes a review of symptom frequency in children, but most interestingly examines available case series in the literature of family clusters of COVID-19 to determine what contribution is made of children to the chain of transmission. Clusters were taken from China, Singapore, the USA, South Korea and Vietnam, totalling 31 household transmission clusters. Of these cases, only 3 (9.7%) had a child as the index case. Considering a worst case scenario (whereby ALL infected children were the index case in their family and had been mislabelled as a secondary in some studies), still children would only account for 6/28 (21%) infection clusters. They compare this to the H5N1 epidemic where children were the index case in 54% of household clusters. This provides further evidence that children appear to have a fairly limited role in the transmission of COVID-19, which has implications for non-pharmaceutical interventions such as school closures.

Bi Q, Wu Y, Mei S, et al. Epidemiology and transmission of COVID-19 in 391 cases and 1286 of their close contacts in Shenzhen, China: a retrospective cohort study, Lancet Infectious Disease, April 27th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30287-5

This was a fairly impressive study looking at contact tracing of 1286 contacts of 391 patients with COVID-19. Only 20 (5.1%) of the initial 391 cases were children, of which 2/3 were asymptomatic. They discovered a secondary attack rate of 15% for household contacts and 9.6% overall. The most important finding is that the rate of infection in children <10 years (7.4%) was similar to the population average (7.9%). The findings of this study suggested that children were becoming infected at a similar rate to adults but were much less likely to be asymptomatic. As no repeat testing was performed, it is unclear if these children were truly asymptomatic, or presymptomatic. Subsequent studies have consistently shown lower attack rates in children, and the reason for this discrepancy is unknown.

Top Epidemiological Papers on Disease Burden

Pollán M, Pérez-Gómez B, Pastor-Barriuso R, et al. Prevalence of SARSCoV-2 in Spain (ENE-COVID): a nationwide, population-based seroepidemiological study. Lancet 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(20)31483-5

Introduction: Spain was one of the countries in Europe hit hardest by the Covid 19 pandemic. These are the first wave results from the Seroepidemiological Survey of SARS-CoV-2 Virus Infection in Spain (Encuesta Seroepidemiológica de la Infección por el Virus SARS-CoV-2 en España; ENE-COVID). This is an epidemiological study with an aim to estimate the sero-prevalence of Sars Cov2 in Spain through symptom checking, point of care antibody testing, and serology.

Methods: 35 883 households across Spain were selected through stratified two stage sampling and invited to take part. This is the result of the first wave of sampling which was conducted from April 27 to May 11, 2020. Participants within selected households answered a questionnaire on history of symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and risk factors. “Asymptomatic” was no symptoms, “paucisymptomatic” (1–2 symptoms without anosmia or ageusia), and symptomatic (anosmia or ageusia, or at least three symptoms among fever; chills; severe tiredness; sore throat; cough; shortness of breath; headache; or nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea). Participants were contacted by phone and then invited to go to local primary care centre for testing or have a home visit. All participants were offered point-of-care antibody test (Orient Gene Biotech COVID-19 IgG/IgM Rapid Test Cassette; Zhejiang Orient GeneBiotech, Zhejiang, China, SARS-CoV-2 spike protein) and, if agreed, donated a blood sample for additional testing with a chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay (SARS-CoV-2 IgG for use with ARCHITECT; Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL, USA, SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein). Sensitivity of the test was deemed any test positive (point of care/ serum), with specificity both tests positive. Of note Spain was under lockdown at the time of this study.

Results: Of 95 699 eligible individuals, 66 805 study participants took part, with 61 075 receiving point of care testing and 51 958 the immunoassay. Overall seroprevalence was 5.0% (CI 4.7–5.4) by the point-of-care test and 4.6% (CI 4.3–5.0) by immunoassay. In 7 provinces in the central part of Spain, including Madrid, seroprevalence was greater than 10% by both methods. Seroprevalence was similar for females and males. Seroprevalence was lower in the oldest age groups (≥85 years) compared with other adults. With regards occupation it was highest in health-care workers, 10.2% (7.9 – 13) than in other occupations these results were supported by the immunoassay.
In those who reported a contact with a confirmed case, seroprevalence was greater in those
who had a confirmed case in their household (range 31.4% to 37.4% between the two tests), in their workplace 9.9–10.6%, among their non-cohabitating family members and friends 13.2–13.7%, or among their caregivers and cleaning staff 12.4–13.5%

Symptoms: For both tests seroprevalence was highest in those with a confirmed Sars-CoV-2 PCR more than 14 days before testing (88·6–90·1%). Among those with a positive test, the proportion of individuals who reported anosmia or three or more symptoms compatible with COVID-19 was 49.1%
for the point-of-care test and 54. 2% for the immunoassay. In 32.7% (CI 30.2–35.4) of point-of-care test and 28.5% (CI 25.6–31.6) participants were asymptomatic.

Results in children: 11,422 children (<19 years) had a point of care test, with 6,527 also having an immunoassay. The proportion of paediatric participants having serology was lower than that of adults, though not unsurprising given the need for extra phlebotomy. Overall seroprevalence for those < 19 years was 3·4% (2·9–3·9) for point of care testing, and 6527 3·8% (3·2–4·6) for immunoassay.
Looking at specific age ranges for point-of-care test seroprevalence was < 1 year, 1.1% (0.3–3.5): 1- 4 years 2.1 %(1.3–3.4); 5 – 9 years 3.1% (2.2–4.2); 10-14 years 4.0% (3.1–5.0); and 15 – 19 years, 3.7% (2.9–4.8). The same pattern but slightly higher percentages were seen with immunoassay <1 year 0.0% (0.0–11.9); 1- 5 years 3.5% (1.7–6.8): 5 – 9 years 3.6% (2.3–5.7); 10 – 14 years 4.1% (3.1–5.5); and 15 – 19 years 3.8 (2.8–5.0). This paper did not give data on symptoms separately in age groups.

Conclusion: Population seroprevalence is lower than expected in areas of high endemic SARS-CoV-2, and is lowest in children. Close contact with people, particularly in the same household increases viral transmission. Over 30% of those with seroprevalence were asymptomatic. This highlights the importance of rapid identification and isolation with those with confirmed SARS-CoV-2, however isolation and separation for other household members may not be realistic in poorer or urban areas.

Gabriele Pagani, Federico Conti, Andrea Giacomelli et al, Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 IgG significantly varies with age: results from a mass population screening (SARS-2-SCREEN-CdA). medRxiv June 24th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.24.20138875

In this brief report of a SARS-CoV-2 serosurvey from Castiglione D’Adda in Italy, the results of a logistic regression model based on the random sampling of 509 subjects from the region (total population 4550) following the peak of transmission in the region are detailed. Prior to this serosurvey testing was limited to severely symptomatic cases.

The exact number of children included is not provided but the age related prevalence was significantly lower in children – 9.1% (0-5yo), 10.1% (5-10yo), 11.2% (10-15yo), 12.5% (15-20yo) – compared with overall seroprevalence of 22.6%.

The methodological details are limited in this report but the data are consistent with serosurvey data from elsewehere in Europe suggesting that children are less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with adults. 

Stringhini, S., A. Wisniak, G. Piumatti, et al. Seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies in Geneva, Switzerland (SEROCoV-POP): a population-based study.” Lancet. June 11th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31304-0

Methods: This study takes a representative population sample from Geneva, Switzerland (already identified by a pre-existing health study) and invites them to attend blood tests looking for antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus over time. The purpose is to monitor what proportion of the population are infected and see how it changes during the course of the pandemic (5 weeks in this study). Participants could only attend once, and were invited by email with a telephone follow up. The only exclusion criteria was living in a prison or care home. Antibodies were measured using a commercial assay (ELISA for S1 domain of spike protein IgG). They performed in house validation of the assay using a couple of techniques (the results of the immunofluorescence validation were factored in to the sensitivity analysis of the model used later in the study)

Analysis: The statistical analysis performed was a Bayesian regression which had a random effect for households and factored in age/sex as well as the test performance to extrapolate the sample results on to population estimates of seropositivity. They calculated the relative risk (RR) of age groups having been infected with age 20 – 49yrs as the reference group.

Results: 5492 people were invited and the final analysis included 2766 people (3426 of the rest were non-responders or awaiting an appointment). 455 children participated. Seropositivity in the population increased between weeks 1 and 2 (4.8% to 8.5%), with no statistically significant difference thereafter (final estimate 10.8%).

The most significant result is that of the children<10yrs in the study, only 1/115 children tested positive (although a further 8 had an equivocal result). This made the RR of infection for children <10yrs 0.32 (0.11 – 0.63) compared to adults aged 20 – 49yrs. There was no statistically significant difference between children aged 10 – 19 yrs (OR 0.86, 0.57–1.22). Another important factor was strong association between household contacts (unsurprisingly). This is important, as there were also lower rates of infection seen in the elderly (>65 yrs OR 0.5, 0.28–0.78) but only 3% of these participants had a positive household contact. Of the 123 children aged 5-9yrs, 17% of them had a positive household contact.

This study adds to a growing body of evidence that younger children (particularly those under 10yrs) may be less susceptible to acquiring infection than adults. The RR of 0.3 despite a relatively high proportion having positive household contacts is in contrast to the elderly, whose low infectivity rate may be explained by reduces exposure (additionally, a relatively high number of elderly will have been hospitalised or passed away from infection during the study, meaning they will not be counted in these statistics).

Considerations: Schools were closed for the duration of this study period which will have reduced community exposure of young children. In addition, almost all validation of antibody assays has been in adults so far. There were a notable number of equivocal results in the young children, but the significance of this is unclear. The results are however consistent with the largest seroprevalence study to date, from Spain.

Lavezzo, E., Franchin, E., Ciavarella, C. et al. Suppression of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in the Italian municipality of Vo’. Nature (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2488-1

This paper outlines the strategy of a small town in Italy which immediately shutdown for 14 days following their first death from COVID-19 on Feb 21st 2020. They subsequently screened 86% of the population for SARS-CoV-2 using nasopharyngeal swabs, then screened again 2 weeks later (71.5% of the population).

At the start of the lockdown 2.6% (95% CI 2.1 – 3.3%) of the population tested positive, but 0 of 217 children aged 0 – 10 tested positive (0%), and only 3/250 aged 11 – 20 (1.2%) tested positive. By the end of the lockdown, 0/157 (0%) children aged 0 – 10 tested positive, and 2/210 (1%) children aged 11- 20 tested positive. Many of the children aged 0 -10 lived with infected individuals. They also noted >40% of people who tested positive were asymptomatic. They note a significant number of infections appeared to have come from asymptomatic individuals during contact tracing. They also note these asymptomatic individuals never developed symptoms, and had similar viral loads to symptomatic patients (as determined by the cycle threshold from RT-PCR). It should be noted the definition of symptoms was restricted to ECDC definitions of COVID-19 related symptoms, and given the wide variation of non-classic symptoms which have been described (rashes, malaise, joint aches, rhinorroea, GI symptoms etc), this likely significantly undercounts the number of patients who truly developed symptoms.

This study has relatively small numbers, but again appears to provide evidence for several important features of paediatric infection: primarily that children appear significantly less likely to become infected than adults. It presents evidence for asymptomatic transmission, and against the theory of viral load correlation with symptom burden.

Gudbjartsson DF, Helgason A, Jonsson H, Magnusson OT, Melsted P, Norddahl GL, et al. Spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the Icelandic Population. N Engl J Med, Published April 14th 2020, doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2006100.

This study describes the entry and spread of SARS-CoV-2 through Iceland. Importantly, this is the first epidemiological report to include SARS-CoV-2 screening of the general population and likely represents the most complete national epidemiological data published to date.

Study design: This report includes all confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections in Iceland identified through either: targeted testing (January 31st to March 31st 2020) – 9199 predominantly symptomatic patients with travel to a high risk country or contact with a confirmed case; population screening (March 13th to April 1st 2020) – 13080 volunteers screened from the general population (without high-risk travel or contact with a confirmed case). Most patients in the population screening cohort were asymptomatic, with a minority with predominantly mild URTI symptoms. A subsequent period of random population screening from April 1st-4th excluded children.

SARS-CoV-2 real-time PCR was performed on combined oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal samples. All confirmed cases were isolated and close contacts placed in quarantine for 14 days.

Key paediatric findings – there is comparative data provided on the 1412 children <10 years of age tested: of 564 children <10 years old tested in the targeted testing cohort, 6.7% (38) were positive – compared with 13.7% of persons >10 years old; of 848 children <10 years old tested in the population screening cohort, 0% (0) were positive – compared with 0.8% of persons >10 years old.

Details on severity of infection, hospitalisation rates and age specific symptom profiles are not included.

Discussion: The first SARS-CoV-2 infection in Iceland was confirmed on 28th February 2020. The dynamics of new cases has transitioned from imported infections initially to ongoing community spread. To date just over 0.5% of the population have had confirmed infection. Whilst physical distancing measures have been put into place including limiting gatherings to a maximum of 20 people, elementary schools have remained open. Iceland has amongst the highest national rates of SARS-CoV-2 testing per capita, with 6% of the population tested as described here. As a result this report provides the most accurate and complete national epidemiological data published to date.

The lower rate of positive tests in childen <10 year olds adds support the hypothesis that children are less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to adults. Similarly the lack of positive tests amongst >800 children screened goes against the theory that the low reported rates of COVID-19 in children are due to a large number of undocumented/asymptomatic paediatric cases. This finding, particularly, has important implications in decision-making around patient flow and isolation in general paediatric care, suggesting that routine testing and isolation of asymptomatic children may be of low yield in similar settings. Clearly a single PCR screening test at one time point has an insufficient negative predictive value to exclude infection. As such, serological studies will be important in providing a clearer picture of the extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children.

Conclusion: Children under 10 yo appear to be less likely to develop SARSCoV-2 infection compared with people >10 yo. In settings with moderate levels of SARS-CoV-2 infection (0.5% population with confirmed infection in this setting), screening of asymptomatic children without overseas travel or contact with a known case is of very low yield.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Children — United States, February 12–April 2, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 6 April 2020. DOI: https://dx.doi. org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6914e4

This is the first USA CDC report of COVID-19 looking specifically at children, examining confirmed cases nationally between FEbruary 12th and April 2nd. Due to the extremely disparate nature of public health reporting in the USA, the data quality and availability for this report is highly variable. There is no information as to the basis on which tests were performed, whether for presentation to hospital, symptomology or due to contact tracing. This cohort is therefore likely extremely heterogeneous. Of the nearly 150,000 confirmed cases in the US at this time, 2,572 (1.7%) were in children. New York City had 33% of paediatric cases. The median age was 11y and males account for 57%. Nearly 33% of cases were in children aged 15 – 17yrs, 15% in children <1y, 11% in children ages 1 – 4y and 15% in children 5 – 9y. 91% of cases had xposure to a known COVID-19 case.

Data on signs/symptoms was only available for 11% of cases. Fever, cough OR shortness of breath were present in 73% of cases, with fever in 56%, cough in 54%, shortness of breath in 13%, rhinorrhoea 7.2%, sore throat 24%, vomiting 11% and diarrhoea 13%. They have not reported on “asymptomatic” cases due to incomplete reporting on symptoms.CU admission was documented for 2% of cases. Hospitalisation was most common in infants (62%), with little difference between other age groups in regards to hospitalisation or ICU admission. From low numbers infants id not appear significantly more likely to be admitted to ICU. Underlying conditions were present in 23% of cases, most commonly respiratory (such as asthma), followed by cardiac conditions and immunosuppression. There are 3 deaths reported, but review is ongoing to determine whether COVID-19 was the cause. This patchy data from the US is useful as it closely resembles data from Chinese cohorts of children in regards to low frequency of severity and adverse outcomes. It confirms available data suggesting lower frequency of common symptoms in children as compared to adults.

Dong Y, Mo X, Hu Y, Qi X, Jiang F, Jiang Z, et al. Epidemiological Characteristics of 2143 Pediatric Patients With 2019 Coronavirus Disease in China. Pediatrics 2020:e20200702. doi:10.1542/peds.2020-0702

This landmark paper is a retrospective epidemiological study of 2143 pediatric patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 (Jan 16 – Feb 8 2020) from in and around Hubei province in China. Confirmed cases were diagnosed by PCR of NPA or blood or genetic sequencing from the respiratory tract or blood highly homologous with SARS-CoV-2. To be a suspected case you needed to be high risk (based on community exposure) with any 2 of: fever, respiratory symptoms or diarrhoea/vomiting; normal or lower white cell count +/- raised CRP; abnormal CXR. If you were medium/low risk for community exposure, you could still be a suspected case if you met any 2 of the above criteria and had other respiratory viruses excluded. Patients were classed according to severity.

There were 731 (34.1%) laboratory-confirmed and 1412 (65.9%) suspected cases. The median age was 7 years. There were 94 (4.4%) asymptomatic, 1091 (50.9%) mild and 831 (38.8%) moderate, accounting for 94.1% of all cases. Of note, the youngest patients (under 1yr) had the highest proportion of severe and critical illness (10.6%). However, this group also had the highest proportion of “suspected” disease (293/379) – of which we do not know how many had an infection with RSV, HPMV or Flu. This was peak bronchiolitis season. There was one death in a 14yr old boy, for which there are no clinical details available. The highest proportion of asymptomatic cases was in the 6-10yr olds (31.9%), for whom there was no recorded critical illness. Critical illness was uncommon in general (0.6% of all cases). The median time from illness onset to diagnosis was 2 days. Chest imaging was emphasized in delineating the severity (CXR and CT). There are also  some interesting epidemiology graphs which essentially map to the well-described adult prevalence of disease and demonstrate Hubei as the epicentre.

This large cohort study provides reassuring data about the severity of illness of COVID-19 in children. There is an indication that younger infants may be most likely to be affected most severely, however, this cohort is highly likely to contain children with normal, severe, winter viral infections such as bronchiolitis. Critical illness was extremely rare.

Top 10 PIMS-TS / MIS-C Papers

Felstein, L.R. et al (2020) Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in U.S. Children and Adolescents, NEJM. epub 29 June 2020, DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa2021680.

This retrospective and prospective multi-centre cohort study from 53 participating hospitals in 26 states looked at 234 patients under 21 years of age that met criteria for multi system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), between March 15 and May 20th

The median age of the patients was 8.3years old and 62% (115) were male. Fifty one patients (27%) had an underlying medical condition. In terms of confirmation of SARS_CoV-2 infection – 70% were positive for RT-PCR and/or antibody testing.  Of a small subgroup of 14 patients with Covid-19 symptoms before MIS-C, the median time between Covid-19 symptom to MIS-C was 25 days (6-51 days).
Criteria for MIS-C were based on CDC guidelines (in brief, requiring hospitalisation, at least two systems involved, fever of at least 24 hours and either lab confirmed SARS_CoV-2 infection (via RT-PCR or antibody testing) or an epidemiological link to a person with Covid-19 within 4 weeks before onset of symptoms).
Although MIS-C criteria was at least 2 system involvement, 71% had involvement of four organ systems or more. The most frequent systems in order were gastrointestinal (92%) followed by cardiovascular (80%), haematological (76%) and respiratory (70%). Blood changes observed included lymphocytopaenia in 80% of patients, and an elevated CRP in 91%.
Looking at similarity and overlap with Kawasaki disease, 40% of patients had either fever for at least 5 days and 4-5 of Kawasaki’s disease-like features or 2-3 Kawasaki’s disease-like features with additional lab or echocardiographic findings. Common symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease bilateral conjunctival infection in 103 (55%), oral mucosal changes in 78 (42%), peripheral extremity change in 69 (37%), rash in 110 (59%), cervical lymphadenoapthy (>1.5cm diameter) in 18 (10%). Differences between MIS-C and Kawasaki’s disease groups include an older age group and a different cardiovascular involvement (more likely myocardial dysfunction) in MIS-C patients.
The majority of patients required ICU admission (n=148, 80%) with one in five patients needing invasive mechanical ventilation. Eight patients received ECMO support. Treatment included IVIG in 77% and systemic glucocorticoids in 49%. There were four deaths (two of which had received ECMO). At the time of writing the paper, 70% of patients had fully recovered with 28% still in hospital.

Dufort EM, Koumans EH, Chow EJ, et al. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children in New York State. N Engl J Med. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2021756.

This is a case series of 99 children (<21 years of age) from New York State with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Of note some of these cases have been reported in small series (Cheung et al JAMA 2020). New York State Department of Health required hospitals that provide paediatric medical or surgical care to report potential cases of Kawasaki’s disease, toxic shock syndrome, or myocarditis or who were suspected to have MIS-C among persons younger than 21 years of age admitted since March 1, 2020, through the NYSDOH Health Emergency Response Data System. The clinical and laboratory characteristics of these reports were studied. Between March 1 and May 10 2020 191 cases were reported of which 95 met the criteria for MIS-C and 4 further were suspected.

Case definition: Confirmed cases were defined by the presence of both clinical and laboratory criteria. Suspected cases had clinical and epidemiological criteria.

Clinical criteria were children <21 years of age with fever and needing hospitalisation with either; 1 or more of hypotension or shock, features of severe cardiac illness, or other severe organ failure. Or 2 or more of; maculopapular rash, non-purulent conjunctivitis, mucocutaneous inflammatory signs or acute GI symptoms with an absence of other cause.

Laboratory criteria:

1. General Criteria; Two or more of raised inflammatory markers and

2. Either positive SARS CoV2 RNA at time of presentation or within 4 weeks or detection of specific antibody.

Epidemiological criteria: In 6 weeks prior to exposure close contact with a person with confirmed or clinically consistent Sars CoV2 infection or travel to or resident in an area with ongoing community transmission. 

Baseline characteristics: 53 (54%) were male. Age range was 0-5 years (31%), 6 to 12 year (42%) and  13 to 20 years (26%). 78 patients had data on race with 29 (37%) were white, 31 (40%) were black, 4 (5%) were Asian, and 14 (18%) were of other races. 36 patients had a preexisting condition, 29 had obesity.  24  (24%) had a Covid-19–compatible illness a median of 21 days (interquartile range, 10 to 31) before hospitalization, 38 (38%) had exposure to a person with confirmed Covid-19, and 22 (22%) had direct contact with a person who had clinical Covid 19.

Symptoms : Described in detail in the study. Prevalence of dermatologic symptoms was highest among children 0 to 5 years of age, and the prevalence of myocarditis (diagnoses and clinical) was highest among the adolescents.

Treatment : Of 99 patients, 79 were treated in ICU. 69 had IVIG, 63 received systemic glucocorticoids, 48  received both systemic glucocorticoids and IVIG. 9 patients had coronary aneurysm

Outcome : As of May 15, a total of 76 patients (77%) had been discharged and 21 (21%) were still hospitalised. Unfortunately 2 patients died in the hospital. Both were intubated and ventilated, once received ECMO. Neither received IVIG, systemic glucocorticoids, or immunomodulators.

Kaushik, S., S. I. Aydin, K. R. Derespina et al, “Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) Associated with SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A Multi-institutional Study from New York City.” J Pediatr.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.06.045

This retrospective observational study details clinical characteristics, therapies and outcomes of a multicentre cohort of 33 children with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19 admitted to PICUs at 3 tertiary care children’s hospitals in New York City between 23 April and 23 May 2020.

Study design:  Patients aged 1 month to 21 years admitted to 3 NYC PICUs (at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center) with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (positive nasopharyngeal swab RT-PCR or antibody assay) meeting criteria for MIS-C (US CDC case definition, formalised on 14 May 2020, used: age < 21 yrs presenting with fever, laboratory evidence of inflammation and evidence of clinically severe illness requiring hospitalisation, with ³ 2 organ involvement, plus no alternative plausible diagnosis, plus positive for current/recent SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 exposure within 4 wks prior to onset of symptoms).  During the study period there were additional suspected patients with similar presentations and management without confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection/exposure who were excluded; only cases with confirmed infection by RT-PCR/antibody assay were included. 

Study population:  33 children met the inclusion criteria at the 3 centres.  Median age 10 years (IQR 6-13), 20/33 male (61%), median BMI 18.6 kg/m2 (IQR 15.9-22.9), 2/33 obese (6%, BMI > 30 kg/m2).  15/33 Hispanic/Latino (45%), 13/33 black (39%), 3/33 white (9%), 1/33 Asian (3%), 1/33 other (3%).  16/33 comorbidities (48%) (most common comorbidity was asthma).  8/33 (24%) had had contact with an ill person, 5/33 (15%) had had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Clinical features:  Fever 31/33 (94%), mucocutaneous involvement 7/33 (21%), conjunctivitis 12/33 (36%), rash 14/33 (42%), abdominal pain 21/33 (64%), nausea/vomiting 23/33 (70%), diarrhoea 16/33 (48%), dyspnoea 11/33 (33%), dizziness 3/33 (9%).  Duration of symptoms prior to admission 4.5 days (IQR 3-6).  21/33 (64%) were hypotensive on admission.

Admission blood results:  Medians (IQR in brackets): WBC 11,000/mL (8450-14,400), lymphocytes 1,100/mL (600-1,300), CRP 250 mg/L (156-302), ESR 53 mm/hr (28-77), procalcitonin 5.4 ng/mL (1.8-16.7), ferritin 568 ng/mL (340-954), fibrinogen 627 mg/dL (455-782), D-dimer 3.7 mg/mL FEU (2.4-5.1), BNP 388 pg/mL (75-1086), pro-BNP 4328 pg/mL (2117-13370), troponin T 0.08 ng/mL (0.02-0.17), IL-6 200 pg/mL (56.4-330), IL-8 41.7 pg/mL (25.1-54.4), creatinine 0.6 mg/dL (0.4-1.1).

CXRs:  Cardiomegaly 10/33 (30%), focal or bilateral pulmonary opacities 11/33 (33%).

Echocardiograms:  Performed in 32/33 (97%).  Pericardial effusion 15/32 (47%), median LVEF 47% (IQR 40-53).  LVEF < 30% 4/32 (13%), LVEF 30-50% 17/32 (53%), LVEF > 50% 11/32 (34%).  24/32 had a second echocardiogram prior to discharge: of those with initial LVEF < 50%, 20/21 (95%) had recovery of ventricular function with normal EF.  Median pre-discharge LVEF 58% (IQR 55-62).  A detailed table is supplied for the 21 patients with LVEF < 50%, including BNP/troponin levels, drug treatment by patient and the 8/21 who had prominent coronary arteries on echo.

Treatment in PICU:  18/33 received IVIg (55%), 17/33 corticosteroids (52%), 12/33 tocilizumab (35%), 7/33 remdesivir (21%), 4/33 Anakinra (12%), convalescent plasma therapy 1/33 (3%), 17/33 vasopressor/inotropes (52%) (median duration of vasopressor use 72 hrs (IQR 48-110), norepinephrine most commonly used agent), 8/33 aspirin (24%), 21/33 diuretics (64%).  Anticoagulation was used in all patients:  prophylactic dose enoxaparin 5/33 (15%), therapeutic dose enoxaparin 27/33 (82%), therapeutic dose unfractionated heparin 1/33 (3%).  Empiric antibiotic coverage for < 48 hrs in 14/33 (42%) and > 48 hrs in 15/33 (45%).  5/33 (15%) required invasive mechanical ventilation.  2/33 (6%) required mechanical circulatory support: 1 ECMO (5-yr-old) and 1 intra-aortic balloon pump (20-yr-old).

Outcomes:  32/33 (97%) patients were discharged home with median PICU stay of 4.7 days (IQR 4-8) and hospital stay of 7.8 days (IQR 6-10).  1/33 (3%) died (ischaemic brain infarction with subarachnoid haemorrhage on day 6 of ECMO).

The authors conclude that rapid, complete clinical and myocardial recovery was almost universal in their study.  They hypothesise that this novel COVID-19 MIS-C is predominantly an antibody-mediated or other immune cell-mediated cytokine storm, with some contribution from direct myocardial injury.  They note the lower morbidity in their cohort relative to recent European studies

Capone, C. A., A. Subramony, T. Sweberg, J. et al. “Characteristics, Cardiac involvement, and Outcomes of Multisystem Inflammatory Disease of Childhood (MIS-C) Associated with SARS-CoV-2 Infection.” J Pediatr. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.jpeds.2020.06.044

This is a single-centre retrospective case series of 33 sequentially hospitalized febrile paediatric patients with CDC case definition for Multisystem Inflammatory Disease of Childhood (MIS-C) and WHO criteria for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS) admitted to Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Queens, NY from April 17, 2020 through May 13, 2020. All cases were positive for SARS-CoV-2 by detection of serum antibodies or nucleic acid from a nasopharyngeal specimen. Patients with COVID-like lower respiratory tract involvement were excluded. The peak of hospitalizations occurred approximately five weeks after the peak of hospitalizations with acute COVID-19. Patients were predominantly male (20, 61%) and non-Hispanic (24, 73%) with a median age of 8.6 years (IQR 5.5-12.6). Most patients were previously healthy but a higher proportion were overweight (2,6%) or obese (12, 39%) compared with the regional childhood obesity rate of 18%. 

Patients presented with a median of 4 days (IQR 3-5) of fever and almost all (32, 97%) had gastrointestinal symptoms (including diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain) as well as other organ system involvement. 21 (64%) patients fulfilled complete criteria for KD and most patients with complete KD criteria, had shock (16, 76%). 

All patients had negative blood cultures and multiplex nucleic acid amplification test for multiple respiratory pathogens except 1 patient in whom influenza virus detected. 26 (79%) patients needed intensive care and 6 (18%) required mechanical ventilation. 58% had myocardial dysfunction and 76% required vasoactive medications. Coronary artery aneurysm was identified in 5 (15%) and dilation was detected in 3 (9%) patients. 

All patients were treated with IVIG, 88% received aspirin, and 70% were given a corticosteroid and 42% were given Enoxaparin. 24% of patients exhibited a partial response to these treatments and received a biologic modifying medication (Anakinra, Tocilizumab, Infliximab). Most patients demonstrated rapid clinical improvement. No patients died. Median length of hospital stay was 4 days (IQR 4, 8). At hospital discharge, mild cardiac dysfunction was still present in 9 of 19 patients. 

This case series shares similarities with smaller international case series reported as Kawasaki-like disease and hyperinflammatory shock syndrome. In all these studies, most patients had antibodies against SARS-COV2 virus, suggestive of a post-infectious, immunologically mediated pathophysiology. The authors suggest that the latent period between the peak of paediatric cases of COVID-19 and MIS-C suggests that MIS-C has a post-infectious, possibly immunologically mediated pathogenesis.

Despite clinical similarities with KD, differences include the predominance of gastrointestinal symptoms, an older age range (8.6 year in MIS-C patients compared with a median age of 2.5 years for patients with KD), markedly elevated inflammatory markers, higher proportion of patients with shock and/or impaired cardiac function (76%) than in other KD studies (less than 3% shock reported), and the lack of thrombotic events in the case series patients. This suggests that MIS-C may be a syndrome distinct from KD. Acute COVID-19 with “cytokine storm” further complicates differentiation of these presentations.  

Further study is needed to shed light on the pathophysiology, treatment options, and outcomes of MIS-C.

Whittaker, E., A. Bamford, J. Kenny, et al. “Clinical Characteristics of 58 Children With a Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome Temporally Associated With SARS-CoV-2.” Jama. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.10369

This paper provides a detailed description of the clinical and laboratory features of 58 children diagnosed with PIMS-TS from 8 hospitals in England between March 23rd and May 16th 2020. All children fulfilling the UK, WHO or CDC criteria for PIMS-TS / MIS-C were included; evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was not required for inclusion. Features of this group were compared with previous data from children with Kawasaki Disease (KD), KD shock syndrome (KDSS) and toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

Of the 58 patients, 45 (78%) had evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection (RT-PCR (15) and or IgG (40)). 33 (57%) were female. 22 (38%) were of black race, 18 (31%) asian. The majority were previously well; only 7 had co-morbidities (3 with asthma, 1 epilepsy, 1 neuro-disability, 1 sickle cell trait, 1 alopecia)

All patients had fever (range 3-19 days). Gastrointestinal symptoms were common (abdominal pain (53%), diarrhoea (52%), vomiting (45%)) whilst respiratory symptoms were relatively uncommon (21%) and 15 (26%) had headache. 

Only 13 (22%) of patients fulfilled criteria for KD; 8 (14%) had coronary artery aneurysm, 26 (45%) conjunctival injection, 30 (52%) rash, 17 (29%) mucous membrane changes, 9 (16%) lymphadenopathy, and 9 (16%) swollen hands and feet. Half of patients developed shock. 

Laboratory findings were consistent with marked inflammation (mean CRP 229 mg/L (IQR 156-338), ferritin 610 μg/L (359-1280), fibrinogen 5.7 g/L (4.4-7), D-dimer 3578 ng/mL (2085-8235)) with neutrophilia (13 x 10^9 (10-19)). Evidence of myocardial injury was common with troponin elevated in 34/50 (68%) and NT ProBNP in 24/29 (83%). Low haemaglobin (92 g/L (83-103)), lymphocyte (0.8 x 10^9 (0.5-1.5) and platelet levels (151 x 10^9 (104-210)) were also observed. 

Half of patients were admitted to a critical care unit; 25 (43%) requiring mechanical ventilation, 27 (47%) inotropes and 3 (5%) ECMO. A range of treatments were given including IVIG (71%), steroids (64%), anakinra (5%) and infliximab (14%). 13 (22%) recovered without immunomodulatory treatment, whilst 60% received >/= 2 and  16% >/= 3 agents. To the last date of follow up only one child had passed away. 

The authors suggest three clinical patterns of PIMS-TS based on the patients included in this series: 

  (1) persistent fever and elevated inflammatory markers (without KD, shock or organ failure) – 23 patients here

  (2) fever and shock, often with myocardial dysfunction – 29 patients 

  (3) children fulfilling criteria for KD – 7 patients (13 if aneurysm included in criteria). 

Compared with children with KD, KDSS and TSS, children with PIMS-TS were older (median age 9 (IQR 5.7-14)) with higher CRP and lower haemaglobin. Compared with those with KD and KDSS, PIMS-TS patients in this series had higher neutrophil count, ferritin and troponin with lower platelet and lymphocyte counts. Compared with pre-COVID-KD cases children with PIMS-TS KD were older and had higher markers of inflammation and myocardial injury. 

This is the most detailed clinical report of PIMS-TS to date. The findings here demonstrate a syndrome with a wide spectrum of signs, symptoms and severity with some overlap with KD, KDSS and TSS. PIMS-TS is characterised by marked inflammation with myocardial dysfunction and often shock necessitating ICU admission for inotropic support, mechanical ventilation and, in a small number of patients, ECMO. Treatment with immunomodulatory agents similar to those used in KD has been employed and only one death had occurred at the time of the report. Differences in clinical and laboratory profile compared with KD, KDSS and TSS, suggests= that PIMS-TS is a unique entity, potentially arising from a maladaptive acquired immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. 

Cheung EW, Zachariah P, Gorelik M, et al. Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome Related to COVID-19 in Previously Healthy Children and Adolescents in New York City. JAMA. Published online June 08, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.10374

This is a case series of 17 children, admitted to a hospital in New York city, between April 18th and May 5th 2020 with features of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome Related to COVID-19.

Patients included in this series were i. less than 21 years old, ii. presented with a clinical syndrome characterized by prolonged fever, systemic inflammation, shock, end-organ dysfunction, or symptoms reminiscent of Kawasaki Disease or Toxic Shock Syndrome and iii. had evidence of recent (SARS-CoV-2) infection. The baseline characteristics of these children were; median age 8 years (1.8-16), 8 were male (47%); 12 were classified white (70.1%), 4 black (23.5%), 1 Asian (5.9%).

Presentation: All had fever, with median duration of 5 days. 14/17 had GI symptoms. Mucocutaneous findings were common (12 rash, 11 conjunctivitis, 9 lip redness/swelling). 3 were hypoxic at presentation, and 13 had shock. 8 met criteria for KD and 5 for incomplete KD.

Investigations: 8 patients tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR and 9 by serology.

Xrays: 14 had abnormal chest radiograph findings, most commonly bilateral, interstitial opacities.

Bloods: mean values for a wide variety of investigations shown in paper in table 2. Mainly group were lymphopenic with raised ferritin, d dimers, clotting times, and troponin.

Cardiac: ECG of 16 patients showed nonspecific ST/T-wave abnormalities in 10 and attenuated QRS voltage in 1. Dysrhythmias were noted in 3. Admission echos showed normal to mildly decreased left ventricular function in 11,  or moderate or more ventricular dysfunction in 6.  All patients had normal coronary arteries by measurement, though coronary arteries were described as prominent or echogenic in 7. However one patient (aged 4 years) developed a medium-sized aneurysm (z score, 5.2) of the left anterior descending coronary artery. This patient presented with fever, diarrhea, and shock, with no additional features of KD.

Treatment: 15/17 patients were admitted to PICU; vasoactive support was required in 10. Treatment was varied, 14 received steroids (either methylprednisone or hydrocortisone, prednisolone numbers of each not given). 13/17 received IVIG including 3 patients who did not receive steroids and 8 who met criteria for KD. One patient received tocilizumab.

Outcome: All patients discharged home with no fatalities.

Comparison with other PIMS TS cohorts:

Reports of hyperinflammatory syndrome in children during the Sars CoV2 outbreak has been reported in France, Italy, UK and US. (see https://dontforgetthebubbles.com/pims-ts/)

This cohort used the CDC definition, which is broadly similar to RCPCH and WHO, though in the US paediatrics < 21 years of age.

Like the other cohorts, the age range is older than typically seen in Kawasaki Disease. Fever and GI symptoms are very common. Mucocutaneous signs were also common. Children presented very unwell, with many needing PICU care (88% in this study). Treatment used included IVIG and steroids.

Unlike other cohorts where black ethnicity was pronounced, 70% of this cohort was classified as white. It would be useful to know the demographic breakdown of the local paediatric population who attend this hospital.

Belot, A., D. Antona, S. Renolleau, et al. SARS-CoV-2-related paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome, an epidemiological study, France, 1 March to 17 May 2020.” Euro Surveill 25(22). June 4th 2020, https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.22.2001010

The first epidemiological surveillance study of SARS-CoV-2-related paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (also known as PIMS-TS).  Carried out in France (population: 67 million) this was a nationwide study through the French public health agency.  156 cases were reported between 1st March and 17th May 2020 through both prospective and retrospective case identification.

Case definition required one or more of the following symptoms: seritis (serositis), characteristics of macrophage activation syndrome (MAS), myocarditis and/or Kawasaki-like disease (KLD).  Cases were divided according to associated Covid status into confirmed, probable or possible CoV and non-CoV.  Comparison was undertaken between non-CoV PIMS and CoV PIMS.

Of note, this definition differs marginally from the UK RCPCH definition of PIMS-TS which is a child with persistent fever, inflammation (neutrophilia, elevated CRP and lymphopaenia) and evidence of single or multi-organ dysfunction.

Age distribution showed a median of 8 years and an interquartile range of 5–11 years.  Peak incidence was week of 18th to 27th April, which was 4-5 weeks behind the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic in France. 

95 of the 156 reported cases were confirmed or probable Covid, supporting a causal link between Covid-19 infection and PIMS.

CoV-PIMS cases (n=108) compared with non-CoV PIMS cases (n=48) had a higher median age (8 vs 3) and showed higher rates of myocarditis (70% vs 10%), macrophage-activation syndrome (23% vs 2%), seritis (22% vs 10%) and ITU admission (67% vs 8%). Rates of Kawasaki-like disease (KLD) were higher in the non-CoV group (81% vs 61%0) supporting the idea that these are ‘classic’ Kawasaki Disease presentations. In the CoV-PIMS groups 73% required vasopressors, 43% were ventilated and one child died.

This is the first epidemiological surveillance study of PIMS-TS indicating rates across a population. It supports a causal link with Covid following 4-5 weeks behind the clinical illness.

Belhadjer Z, Méot M, Bajolle F, Khraiche D, Legendre A, Abakka S, Auriau J, Grimaud M, Oualha M, Beghetti M, Wacker J. Acute heart failure in multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) in the context of global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Circulation. 2020 May 17. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.048360

A multi-centred retrospective case series studied the early outcomes for children admitted to intensive care for cardiogenic shock, left ventricular dysfunction and severe inflammatory state. The study involved 14 centres in France and Switzerland. The inclusion criteria were admission between 22nd March and 30th April 2020 with fever (>38.5°C), cardiogenic shock or left ventricular dysfunction (left ventricular ejection fraction<50% in the presence of an inflammatory state (CRP> 100 mg/mL).

In summary, left ventricular systolic dysfunction was present in all patients who experienced a low systolic blood pressure. The authors contrast this to Kawasaki disease, in which diastolic dysfunction predominates and only a third of patients experience left ventricular systolic dysfunction.

The authors suggest the rapid resolution of systolic dysfunction in conjunction with a mild to moderate troponin rise implies the mechanism of cardiac impairment associated with SARS-CoV2 in the paediatric population differs to that seen in the adult population. Due to the high BNP levels present in the case series a mechanism of myocardial oedema or stunning is suggested. Very high levels of Interleukin-6 were also seen and may be related to vasoplegia. It was hypothesised these significantly raised results could be caused by stretched cardiomyocytes and cardiac fibroblasts in conjunction with macrophage activation. However, further research would be required to determine the immune mechanisms involved and potentially guide treatment choices.

35 patients were included with a median age of 10 years (IQR 2-16 years), 18 were male. 31 patients were confirmed SARS-CoV2 positive by either a nasopharyngeal RT-PCR, faecal RT-PCR, tracheal swab, or serology using Chemiluminescent Microplate Immunoassay-CMIA technique. 2 other patients were SARS-CoV2 negative, however, had CT chest appearances consistent with SARS-CoV2 changes.

10 of the patients had an identified co-morbidity: 3 (8.5%) had asthma, 1 (3%) had lupus and 6 (17%) were overweight with a BMI greater than 25. There was no data regarding ethnic origin included.

Clinical features: 35 (100%) had fever, 35 (100%) Asthenia, GI symptoms 29 (83%), rhinorrhoea 15 (43%), respiratory distress 23 (65%), adenopathy 21 (60%), rash 20 (57%), meningism 11 (31%), chest pain 6 (71%), cardiogenic shock 28 (80%), ventricular arrhythmia 1 (3%). A large proportion of the patients had shock with low systemic blood pressure with limited information.

Radiology: 2 patients had CT chest appearances “typical” for those with SARS-CoV2.

Bloods: CRP 241 mg/mL (IQR150-311) mg/mL, Troponin I 347 (IQR 186-1267) ng/L (normal <26ng/L), Creatinine Kinase 174 U/L (IQR 110-510), NT-proBNP 41484 pg/mL (IQR 35811-52475) (normal <300 pg/mL), BNP 5743 pg/mL (IQR 2648-11909) normal <100 pg/mL), D-Dimer 5284 ng/ml (IQR 4069-9095), Procalcitonin 36 ng/ml (IQR 8-99), WCC 16 X 10^3/L (IQR 12-23), Neutrophil count 13 X 10^3/L (IQR 8-19), Interleukin 6 135 pg/mL (IQR 87-175) (normal <8.5 pg/mL) 

Treatments: All patients required intensive care management with 10 (28%) needing V-A ECMO for an average of 4.5 days (range 3-6), 28 (80%) needing inotropic medication, 22 (62%) invasive ventilation and 11 (32%) non-invasive ventilation.

25 (71%) were given intravenous immune globulin with 1 (3%) patient given repeated IVIG due to persistent fever 48 hours after the first dose. 12 (34%) received intravenous steroids, dose unclear, due to grading them high-risk with symptoms similar to an incomplete form of Kawasaki disease and 3 patients received interleukin 1 receptor antagonist (anakinra) due to a persistent severe inflammatory state. 23 patients received therapeutic heparin.

Outcomes: No patients died. All 10 patients requiring V-A ECMO were weaned off successfully. The average hospital stay was 8 days (IQR 8-14) with ICU duration of 7 days (3.7-10 days). At the time of publication 7 (20%) patients remained as an inpatient or had residual left ventricular dysfunction.

Complete recovery of left ventricular function, [left ventricular ejection fraction > 60% at day 7] was seen in 25 patients (71%) by an average of 2 days after admission. 5 (14%) had residual mild to moderate left ventricular systolic dysfunction with a left ventricular ejection fraction greater than 45%. This was measured on the last follow up, an average of 12 days after admission.

Other investigations were undertaken to assess cardiac function.

ECG: 1 patient (3%) had ST elevation on ECG.

Echocardiography results: 10 (29%) of patients had an ejection fraction below 30% on admission whilst 25 (71%) had an ejection fraction between 30 and 50%. Global hypokinesis was seen in 31 (89%) with an additional 3 (9%) patients had segmental wall hypokinesis. 1 (3%) patient had Takotsubo syndrome presentation with akinesis of the apical segment Pericardial effusions were diagnosed in 3 (9%) patients.

Coronary artery dilatation, defined as Z-score >2 adjusted for body temperature, was present in 6 patients (17%): 5 patients (14%) had dilatation of the left main stem and 1 (3%) had dilatation of the right coronary artery. Right ventricular function was normal, and no thrombi were seen. No coronary aneurysms have been seen, however, ongoing follow up is planned.

Data was not presented regarding SARS-CoV2 antibodies, however, within the discussion it was noted that those who were serologically positive for SARS-CoV2 already had IgG antibodies suggesting the patients included within the study had contact with the virus “more than 3 weeks before admission”.   

Toubiana Julie, Poirault Clément, Corsia Alice, Bajolle Fanny, Fourgeaud Jacques, Angoulvant François et al. Kawasaki-like multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children during the covid-19 pandemic in Paris, France: prospective observational study BMJ 2020; 369 :m2094

This cohort study looks at a cluster of patients diagnosed with Kawasakis disease at a hospital in Paris between April 27th and May 11th. During this time they admitted 21 children with a diagnosis of Kawasakis or incomplete Kawasakis, with a median age of 7.9yr and 12/21 female.

Clinical features: All children presented with persistent fever and with initial GI symptoms (vomiting and diarrhoea) with over half fulfilling complete KD criteria (11/21, 52%). The majority were irritable (12/21, 57%) and myocarditis was common (16/21, 76%). Coronary artery dilation was seen in 5/21 (24%) but no aneurysms seen. 8/18 who had chest imaging had lung changes.

Bloods: Inflammatory markers were significantly raised, with a median CRP of 253, PCT 22.5 and IL-6 170. Interestingly mean platelet count was 499 (but up to 838). Median troponin 282 and D dimer 4025 (up to 19330). Ferritin not reported.

COVID-19 status: 8/21 tested positive on swab and 19/21 had positive serology

Treatment: All were given IVIg, following which 5/21 still had fever 36hrs afterwards. They were given a second dose of IVIg and steroids. 15/21 required inotropic support and 11/21 required intubation/ventilation.

Outcomes: Median length of stay was 8 days (rage 5 – 17). There were no deaths.

Three subsequent studies have confirmed very similar presentations of this hyperinflammatory syndrome (PIMS-TS) in children, with initial abdominal pain, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting, progressing to a picture similar to Kawasakis disease but with a significant number developing shock and significant cardiac involvement.

Riphagen, Shelley et al., Hyperinflammatory shock in children during COVID-19 pandemic, The Lancet, May 7th 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31094-1

This is the first case series to describe a cluster of children presenting with hyperinflammatory shock during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eight children aged 4 to 14 years were identified by a paediatric retrieval service based in London in mid-April 2020. Interestingly, of the 8 children, 7 had weights >75th centile. Notably 6 were of Afro-Caribbean descent and 2 were Asian, with no Caucasian children in this cohort. 5/8 were boys. 4 children had exposure to family members with COVID-19.

The clinical presentation was similar to Kawasaki disease, with unrelenting fever, rash, conjunctivitis, peripheral oedema, and extremity pain, in addition to gastrointestinal symptoms. All children developed warm, vasoplegic shock and required inotropic support. Seven children required mechanical ventilation.

Small pleural, pericardial and ascitic effusions, also consistent with a diffuse inflammatory process were also observed. Vascular involvement was demonstrated with echo-bright coronary arteries seen in all children, with a giant coronary aneurysm in one patient. One child died from a large cerebrovascular infarct. Myocardial enzymes were significantly elevated.

A range of investigations were done in all children, and despite this no causative pathogen was identified. Adenovirus and enterovirus were isolated in one child. Four children had known exposures to SARS-CoV-2 in family members, but only two tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (1 was positive only postmortem). 

In addition to other supportive therapies, all children received IVIG and broad-spectrum antibiotics (ceftriaxone, clindamycin). Six children have been given aspirin.

This clinical presentation may represent a new phenomenon associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection in children and has remarkable similarities to Kawasaki Disease. Following publication of this case series, Evelina London Children’s Hospital has managed >20 similar cases in children. Ten of these children were SARS-CoV-2 antibody positive (unclear which antibody or which test was used).

These findings have garnered particular interest due to the fact that children have otherwise been relatively spared from severe disease due to COVID-19, and here both the temporal association and high proportion of children with seemingly positive serology suggests a possible association with this hyperinflammatory syndrome. Anecdotally, clusters have also been noted in the USA (particularly NYC) and some centres in Spain and Italy. Reports are conspicuously absent from Asia, most notable as Kawasakis disease is more common amongst this population normally. Even more striking is the gross overrepresention of children with an Afro-Carribean background, which given current investigations into the increased incidence of severe adult disease in these communities seems even more pertinent.

As so little is currently known about “garden variety” Kawasakis, it will make defining this disease and its associated with COVID-19 that bit more difficult, but studies are currently ongoing to assess the nature and mechanism of this disease (https://www.diamonds2020.eu/). For now, this cohort doesn’t change the management of childhood COVID-19, nor does it change the management of hyperinflammatory shock or Kawasakis – although the RCPCH have produced excellent guidance for suggested investigations and processes to include these patients in ongoing research.

Paediatric COVID data

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Casas, CGarcia-Doval, IBr J DermatologyClassification of the cutaneous manifestations of COVID-19: a rapid prospective nationwide consensus study in Spain with 375 cases29 Apr 2020spainEurope0Clinical - Clinical Featureshttps://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/bjd.19163This report is of confirmed COVID-19 infections in children under 18 years of age who presented to a research collaboration of 17 paediatric emergency departments in Italy between March 3rd and March 27th. The median age was 3.3 years and 57/100 were male. Children under 1 year were overrepresented (40%) followed by children >10yrs (24%). Helpfully they categorise their patients according to criteria from Dong et. al (see review in Epidemiology top 10): Asymptomatic 21%, Mild 58%, Moderate 19%, Severe 1% and Critical 1%. Only 12% of patients appeared ill on assessment. Interestingly only 4% of patients had Oxygen saturations <94%. Only 38% of children needed admission for severity of illness. There were no deaths. The supplementary appendix includes a huge amount of detailed analysis of the cases, which are summarised below Clinical features: Fever 54%, Cough 44%, Feeding difficulty 23%, Sore throat 4%, Rhinorrhoea 22%, Diarrhoea 9%, vomiting 10%. Bloods: Largely unremarkable (although reports of lymphopenia unclear – state 14 patients lymphopenic but that this is 28%? – perhaps only 50 children had bloods, but this is not reported). Procalcitonin <0.5ng/L in 29/23 patients. Radiology: Chest x-rays performed for 35 children, of which 14/35 had interstitial abnormalities, 6/35 consolidation and 1/35 pleural effusion: remaining 15/35 normal. Comorbidities: There were 27/100 children with comorbidities – although it appears most had mild illness (did not require respiratory support). This included 6 with cystic fibrosis, 4 neurological, 4 haematological, 4 with a syndrome, 3 with prematurity, 2 with cardiac conditions, 2 immunological, 2 oncological and 1 metabolic disease. Of the few patients who required respiratory support (9/100) a significant number had comorbidities (6/9), although the rage was broad. This included 2 children with “epileptic encephalopathy”, one of whom also had CHARGE syndrome, a child with autism, a child with a VSD, a child with propionic acidemia, and a child with thrombocytopenia and frequent respiratory infections. One of the strengths of this study is comparisons across other studies of clinical features of COVID-19 in children. In comparison to Dong et al, CDC data and Lu et al, most features are broadly comparable. Some notable differences are a significantly larger number of infants in the Italian data (40% <1yr compared to 18% in Lu, 12% in Dong and 15.5% in CDC) and a slightly higher number of asymptomatic children (21% compared to 16% Lu, 13% Dong and 1.3% CDC). This most likely represents differences in which population cohorts presented for testing among the different studies – comparisons between cohorts is always difficult currently due to broad differences in the demoninators used. Notably there is no apparent difference in severity according to age in this Italian data, whereas CDC noted increased hospitalisation in children <1yr and Dong et al noted higher rates of severe or critical illness in infants <1yr. Broadly speaking this study confirms findings from China and the USA regarding significantly milder illness in children than adults with COVID-19, including many asymptomatic children. Note is made of overrepresentation of children with comorbidities in this cohort (similar to CDC data), although most of these still had mild illness - it is unclear if these children become more unwell, or are more likely to present to be tested.
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Lowe, BBopp, BAustralian & NZ Journal of Obstetrics & GynaecologyCOVID‐19 vaginal delivery – a case report15 Apr 2020AustraliaOceania1Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1111/ajo.13173
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Xiong, XPang, QJournal of Medical VirologyVaginal delivery report of a healthy neonate born to a convalescent mother with COVID­‐1910 Apr 2020ChinaAsia1Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25857
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Alzamora, MCLa Rosa, MA, J PerinatolSevere COVID-19 during Pregnancy and Possible Vertical Transmission8 Apr 2020USA or Peru (not clear)Unclear1Neonatalhttps://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0040-1710050
Zhang, ZBi, YEuropean Respiratory JournalNovel Coronavirus Infection in Newborn Babies Under 28 Days in China8 Apr 2020ChinaAsia4Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1183/13993003.00697-2020
Yang, PZhao, DJournal of Clinical VirologyClinical characteristics and risk assessment of newborns born to mothers with COVID-198 Apr 2020ChinaAsia7Neonatalhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1386653220300986
Wu, XWang, XIJGORadiological findings and clinical characteristics of pregnant women with COVID‐19 pneumonia8 Apr 2020ChinaAsia21Neonatalhttps://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijgo.13165
Yang, HJin, ZjinfClinical features and outcomes of pregnant women suspected of coronavirus disease 20197 Apr 2020ChinaAsia57Neonatalhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7152867/pdf/main.pdf
Kalafat, EKoc, EUltrasound in Obstetrics and GynaecologyLung ultrasound and computed tomographic findings in pregnant woman with COVID‐196 Apr 2020TurkeyAsia1Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1002/uog.22034
Gidolf, SJosefsson, HActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica ScandinavicaCOVID‐19 in pregnancy with comorbidities: More liberal testing strategy is needed6 Apr 2020SwedenEurope2Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1111/aogs.13862
Kamali Aghdam, MEftekhari, KInfectious DiseasesNovel coronavirus in a 15-day-old neonate with clinical signs of sepsis, a case report1 Apr 2020IranMiddle East1Neonatalhttps://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23744235.2020.1747634
Iqbal, SRuiz, MNEJMAn Uncomplicated Delivery in a Patient with Covid-19 in the United States1 Apr 2020USANorth America1Neonatalhttps://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2007605
Lee, DAn, JKorean Journal of AnesthesiologyEmergency cesarean section on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS- CoV-2) confirmed patient.31 Mar 2020South KoreaAsia1Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.4097/kja.20116
Chen, SShao, YJournal of Medical VirologyClinical analysis of pregnant women with 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia28 Mar 2020ChinaAsia5Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25789
Breslin, ND'Alton, MAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and GynecologyCOVID-19 in pregnancy: early lessons27 Mar 2020USANorth America7Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajogmf.2020.100111
Dong, LYang, JJAMAPossible Vertical Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 From an Infected Mother to Her Newborn26 Mar 2020ChinaAsia1Neonatalhttps://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2763853
Zeng, LZhou, WJAMA PedNeonatal Early-Onset Infection With SARS-CoV-2 in 33 Neonates Born to Mothers With COVID-19 in Wuhan, China26 Mar 2020ChinaAsia3Neonatalhttps://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2763787
Zeng, HFan, JJAMAAntibodies in Infants Born to Mothers With COVID-19 Pneumonia26 Mar 2020ChinaAsia6Neonatalhttp://jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jama.2020.4861
Zheng, QJin,LReprod Dev MedSingle cell RNA expression profiling of ACE2 and AXL in the human maternal-fetal interface25 Mar 2020N/AN/A0Neonatalhttp://www.repdevmed.org/article.asp?issn=2096-2924;year=2020;volume=4;issue=1;spage=7;epage=10;aulast=Zheng;type=0
Zambrano, LRodrigues-Morales, ATravel Medicine and Infectious DiseaseA pregnant woman with COVID-19 in Central America25 Mar 2020HondurasNorth America1Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmaid.2020.101639
Yu, NWu, JLancet: Infectious DiseasesClinical features and obstetric and neonatal outcomes of pregnant patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective, single-centre, descriptive study24 Mar 2020ChinaAsia7Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30176-6
Fan, CWang, SClinical Infectious DIseasesPerinatal Transmission of COVID-19 Associated SARS-CoV-2: Should We Worry?17 Mar 2020ChinaAsia2Neonatalhttps://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa226/5809260
Lui, WWong, ZFront. Med.Clinical characteristics of 19 neonates born to mothers with COVID-1917 Mar 2020ChinaAsia19Neonatalhttps://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11684-020-0772-y.pdf
Chen, YLiu, YFrontiers in Paediatrics: NeonatologyInfants Born to Mothers With a New Coronavirus (COVID-19)16 Mar 2020ChinaAsia4Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.3389/fped.2020.00104
Li, NYang, LMedRxIVMaternal and neonatal outcomes of pregnant women with COVID-19 pneumonia: a case-control study13 Mar 2020ChinaAsia17Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.10.20033605
Wang, SFeng, LClinical Infectious DiseasesA Case Report of Neonatal 2019 Coronavirus Disease in China12 Mar 2020ChinaAsia1Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa225
Mogharab, VJavdani, FJournal of the Formosan Medical AssociationThe first case of COVID-19 infection in a 75-day-old infant in Jahrom City, south of Iran8 Mar 2020IranMiddle East1Neonatalhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0929664620301078?via%3Dihub
Kam, KYung, CmedRxivSARS-CoV-2 Viral RNA Load Dynamics in the Nasopharynx of Infected Children2 Sep 2020SingaporeAsia17Epidemiology - Disease Burdenhttps://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.21.20178574v1
Kim, JChoi, EArchives of disease in childhoodRole of children in household transmission of COVID-197 Aug 2020South KoreaAsia107Epidemiology - Transmissionhttps://adc.bmj.com/content/early/2020/08/06/archdischild-2020-319910
Park, YJeong, KEmerg Infect DisContact tracing during coronavirus disease outbreak, South Korea, 202016 Jul 2020South KoreaAsia153Epidemiology - Transmissionhttps://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-1315_article
Swann, OSemple, MBr. Med. JClinical characteristics of children and young people admitted to hospital with covid-19 in United Kingdom: prospective multicentre observational cohort study17 08 2020UKEurope651Clinical - Clinical Featureshttps://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/370/bmj.m3249.full.pdf
Diriba, KGetu, EEur J Med ResThe effect of coronavirus infection (SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV) during pregnancy and the possibility of vertical maternal–fetal transmission: a systematic review and meta-analysis04 Sept 2020EthiopiaAfrica1316Neonatalhttps://eurjmedres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40001-020-00439-w
Pang, JBreuer, JPediatricsSARS-CoV-2 Polymorphisms and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)1/9/20United Kingdom Europe13Clinical - PIMS-TShttps://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/09/07/peds.2020-019844
Liu, DZeng, CAmerican Journal of RoentgenologyPregnancy and perinatal outcomes of women with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pneumonia: A preliminary analysis7 Mar 2020ChinaAsia11Neonatalhttps://www.ajronline.org/doi/full/10.2214/AJR.20.23072
Li, YSheng, JEmerging Infectious DiseasesLack of Vertical Transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, China5 Mar 2020ChinaAsia1Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.3201/eid2606.200287
Liu, YGuo, YJournal of InfectionClinical manifestations and outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy4 Mar 2020ChinaAsia13Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf.2020.02.028
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Chen, HZhang, YLancetClinical characteristics and intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection in nine pregnant women: a retrospective review of medical records12 Feb 2020ChinaAsia9Neonatalhttps://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30360-3
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About Alison Boast, Alasdair Munro + Henry Goldstein

AvatarAlison is a paediatric registrar in Australia, currently embarking on her PhD in bone and joint infections. She is passionate about teaching and making the world just that little bit more organized with the help of washi tape.


Alasdair is a Paediatric registrar in the UK, currently working as a Clinical Research Fellow in Paediatric Infectious Diseases. His interests include evidence based medicine, diagnostics and antimicrobial resistance.

Henry is a paediatric trainee based in Queensland, Australia, Henry is passionate about Adolescent Medicine & General Paediatrics, with a strong interest in Medical Education & Clinical Teaching. An admitted nerd & ironman with a penchant for Rubik's Cubes & 'Dad jokes'.

Avatar
Author: Alison Boast, Alasdair Munro + Henry Goldstein Alison is a paediatric registrar in Australia, currently embarking on her PhD in bone and joint infections. She is passionate about teaching and making the world just that little bit more organized with the help of washi tape. Alasdair is a Paediatric registrar in the UK, currently working as a Clinical Research Fellow in Paediatric Infectious Diseases. His interests include evidence based medicine, diagnostics and antimicrobial resistance. Henry is a paediatric trainee based in Queensland, Australia, Henry is passionate about Adolescent Medicine & General Paediatrics, with a strong interest in Medical Education & Clinical Teaching. An admitted nerd & ironman with a penchant for Rubik's Cubes & 'Dad jokes'.

60 Responses to "An evidence summary of Paediatric COVID-19 literature"

  1. Avatar
    Jo Mannion 6 months ago .Reply

    Thanks for collating this Alisdair and Alison
    Really useful

    • Avatar
      Dr. Vicki Burneikis 6 months ago .Reply

      The prolonged faecal shedding is worrying- should grandparents wear PPE to change nappies?

  2. Avatar
    Kylie Stark 6 months ago .Reply

    You guys never fail to deliver
    Thankyou

  3. Avatar
    Claire Lundy 6 months ago .Reply

    Absolutely brilliant thanks so much

  4. Avatar
    Dr Rajiv Uttam 6 months ago .Reply

    Very useful information
    Thanks

  5. Avatar
    Dr P 6 months ago .Reply

    Thanks. An amazing effort once again.

  6. Avatar
    veronica giordano 6 months ago .Reply

    Thank you so much, brilliant

  7. Avatar
    Shermina 6 months ago .Reply

    Thanks for doing this work – really helpful

  8. Avatar
    Johhn Kopsidas 6 months ago .Reply

    Thank you!

  9. Avatar
    Kelly 6 months ago .Reply

    We need risk and recommendation commentary on special needs paediatric population; particularly those of school age (and whose parents/Carers are front line such as health care workers)

    • Avatar
      Katie 6 months ago .Reply

      Echoing your request; this cohort needs timely guidance based on what evidence we can glean. Thanks DFTB once again for educational content.

    • Avatar
      Steph D 6 months ago .Reply

      I am a NHS front line worker with a child who has severe & complex needs and recurring chest infections. Currently isolated pseudomonas in the chest. Desperate for information.

      • Avatar
        CER 6 months ago .Reply

        Me too. My daughter has bronchiectasis but is currently well.

      • Avatar
        Steph D 6 months ago .Reply

        Massive thanks to you all for this. Keep up the good work 🙂

    • Avatar
      Sarah Mudge 6 months ago .Reply

      Much appreciated for collating this information. Frontline ICU Nurse and Cerebral Palsy parent.

  10. Avatar
    Angela Luangrath 6 months ago .Reply

    Very appreciative of you work. Thank you!

  11. Avatar
    Amelia 6 months ago .Reply

    This is amazing – thanks!! Paeds Reg on mat leave with a newborn here. Have been wanting to look into this but too tired to tackle – I am so appreciative.

    • Avatar
      Annika 6 months ago .Reply

      Me too, 6 week old daughter, father neurologist in emergency department in Germany. Thank you for summarizing!!

  12. Avatar
    Dr Jacinta Coleman 6 months ago .Reply

    Great to have some clarity about presentation in these paediatric case studies. Thank you!

  13. Avatar
    Larry Budd 6 months ago .Reply

    With Mycoplasms noted more than just once do Symptomatic cases earn Azithromycin or other atypical therapy while waiting for results? Would the CXR / CT chest findings be consistent with Mycoplasms?

  14. Avatar
    Genevieve 6 months ago .Reply

    Thank you! This is great summary of really useful studies. Keep up the good work!

  15. Avatar
    Dave Watkin 6 months ago .Reply

    CT’s on asymptomatic children? Why?

  16. Avatar
    Shilpa Shah 6 months ago .Reply

    this is fabulous work. you all deserve an OBE 🙂

  17. Avatar
    Sarah C 6 months ago .Reply

    Well done, very concise

  18. Avatar
    Saqib 6 months ago .Reply

    thank you – interesting that they have unilateral opacities on some CXR considering all I knew previously was that it was bilateral ground glass – makes me wonder about the kid I sent home recently with coamox as the XR changes were unilateral…however he has not come back so I assume he is ok! no harm, no foul.

  19. Avatar
    sabine Hennel 6 months ago .Reply

    thank you so much for doing this – great work !!

  20. Avatar
    Konstantina Karanasiou 6 months ago .Reply

    Thank you

  21. Avatar
    Pilar 6 months ago .Reply

    Thanks! Very useful

  22. Avatar
    Paola 6 months ago .Reply

    Thanks a lot for doing this excellent work. These data are confirmed in Italy. Up to Now few children admittedto the hospital, mild symptoms, NO admission di intensive care. Keep fingers crossed. Very important to apply prevention policy and . isolation. Infection rate is starting to decrease in the area where the isolation was perforned rigorously (North East of Italy meaning Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia where I work. Good luck to all of you and keep safe

  23. Avatar
    Nick Thies 6 months ago .Reply

    Thanks for a brilliant review. You deserve a koala stamp!

  24. Avatar
    Jose Manuel 6 months ago .Reply

    Thank you for this useful review.

  25. Avatar
    Sanaa 6 months ago .Reply

    Thank you so much . This is a great summary , and such a positive look at paediatric covid cases , so we can somehow reassure the panicked mothers!

  26. Avatar
    Simon Chiles 6 months ago .Reply

    Thank you, really interesting

  27. Avatar
    Rob Millar 6 months ago .Reply

    Good to know COVID in kids is relatively mild. However, do we know anything about numbers of paediatric HCWs becoming infected?

  28. Avatar
    OKUYAT ROBERT 6 months ago .Reply

    Nice good info

  29. Avatar
    ILHAAM Abbas 6 months ago .Reply

    Interesting read. Thank you for sharing

  30. Avatar
    Aurora, R 6 months ago .Reply

    Thank you for this much needed information.

  31. Avatar
    Angela Freydag 6 months ago .Reply

    Dear DFTB Team, thank you for this very helpful summary!

    Please note: In Cui Y, Tian M, Huang D, et al. , A 55- day old female.. the authors write at the end of the first paragraph:
    “The nasopharyngeal swab obtained from the infant also tested positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) on real-time reverse transcription–polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) assay.”
    I find this reassuring and would like to recommend to correct this part of your summary.
    Sincerely, Angela

    • Avatar
      Alasdair Munro 6 months ago .Reply

      Thank you for pointing out this omission – we will correct this immediately. We appreciate you taking the time to comment and help us improve the post.

  32. Avatar
    jogender Kumar 6 months ago .Reply

    Excellent work. Very useful, precise and to the point information.

  33. Avatar
    Katie 6 months ago .Reply

    thank you so much for this summary!

  34. Avatar
    Judith morgan 6 months ago .Reply

    Thank you. As a paediatric anaesthetist I’m trying to keep up with all the latest information and this is a great summary and am very grateful you’ve done this review.

  35. Avatar
    Karen Bartholomew 6 months ago .Reply

    Thanks for the excellent work from another paediatric anaesthetist

  36. Avatar
    Yamila Gurovich 6 months ago .Reply

    Thank you for reviewing these papers a friend who is a
    Paediatric nurse sent me this information. What is interesting is that a lot of studies note fecal shedding of virus or detection of virus in fecal samples is still there after oral/nasal tests are negative for virus. This is interesting as it seems coronavirus have evolved and originated in bats and bats shed these virus in fecal matter.

  37. Avatar
    Narinder Kaur 6 months ago .Reply

    Thank you so much for putting this together. Great Work. Faecal shedding is interesting and worrysome at the same time

  38. Avatar
    Robert S. Greenberg MD 6 months ago .Reply

    Great work….linked to from PedsAnesthesia.Net
    #teamsport

  39. Avatar
    Sarah Berwick 6 months ago .Reply

    Paeds medical nurse practitioner here, amazing job on the delivery of such valuable information. Great work. Your time & effort greatly appreciated.

  40. Avatar
    Kgomotso Lovey Sanyane 6 months ago .Reply

    What a wonderful post. Absolutely valuable information in these trying times. I’m a paediatrician in South Africa and we are experiencing an increasing amount of COVID-19 cases

  41. Avatar
    Dr Luke Jeremijenko Emergency Physician 6 months ago .Reply

    Thanks team. Wonderful resource. Avidly reading through the papers. Question to the DFTB brains trust. I ran Dr Ben Symons simulation today and was asked (appropriately) is there a viral filter available for the F&P airvo 2? How are people running HFNP outside a negative pressure room?

    • Avatar
      Andrew Tagg 6 months ago .Reply

      We are trying to see what the evidence is, or at least find some expert consensus on this, so watch this space. I’m not a fan of the idea at the moment so we are advocating for starting it in the place it is going to b ultimately used. You don’t want to push a patient on HF through the hospita.l

  42. Avatar
    Tilmann Schober 6 months ago .Reply

    Thanks for this wonderful tool. Just one important remark? If you sort according to the date of publication, it is no in a chronological order. It might work if you put the year first, than the month and than the day.
    Best, Tilmann

  43. Avatar
    Paul Van Laer 6 months ago .Reply

    Cui Y, Tian M, Huang D, et al. A 55-Day-Old Female Infant infected with COVID 19: presenting with pneumonia, liver injury, and heart damage. J Infect Dis
    Concerning the elevated troponin: we see a slightly elevated troponin in all our young babies (newborn and older), without any clinical or echographic signs of cardiac involvement

  44. Avatar
    Pratik Patel M.D. 4 months ago .Reply

    Dear Don’t Forget the Bubbles,

    I wanted to make you aware of a critically ill previously healthy pediatric patient who we had in Atlanta (USA) in late March who had concern for hyperinflammation and was successfully treated with a variety of COVID as well as hyperinflammation treatments (remdesivir and tocilizumab). We published our case and it is available online at Pediatrics in case you were interested in including it in your future summaries/posts! https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2020/04/30/peds.2020-1437.full.pdf

    Thanks,
    Pratik

  45. Avatar
    Khallad 4 months ago .Reply

    Great work … !!

  46. Avatar
    Solomie 3 months ago .Reply

    Dear Alison, Alasdair and Henry, I was looking for a nice summary of pediatrics literatures and I found yours to be very comprehensive and well organized. Thank you so much!

  47. Avatar
    Daniel 3 months ago .Reply

    Dear Alison, Alasdair and Henry, I´ve been following your updates for weeks now. Very helpful. Great work, very much appreciated! Way to go!

  48. Avatar
    Simon Middle 3 months ago .Reply

    Has there been anything said about that the children are not going out so wouldn’t be the primary source of the disease (adults doing food shop)? Also, they would rarely be the care giver if a member of household became ill, so less chance of transmission there too.

  49. Avatar
    Mafe Maluleke 2 months ago .Reply

    Do you have DFTB iOS app?

  50. Avatar
    Fareeha 2 months ago .Reply

    Exceptional work! Thanks for your help. Much appreciated.

  51. Avatar

    “Our search criteria […]only those felt to be of exceptional quality”

    Selection criteria, based on feelings ?

    Sorry this cannot be taken as a serious meta study which must be based on objective selection criteria.
    No wonder, all selected studies fit a single narrative: “open the schools”.

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