Since the early days of the pandemic, evidence has consistently shown that Covid poses almost no risk to children. A major British study from last year estimated the survival rate for under 18s as 99.995%, and found that three quarters of under 18s who died from Covid had a serious underlying health condition.
Deaths are (relatively) easy to count. But what about severe symptoms that don’t result in death – how many children experience those? A new Icelandic study provides the answer.
The study, authored by Valtyr Thors and colleagues, has one key advantage over previous studies: thanks to Iceland’s small population and comprehensive record-keeping, the authors were able to identify all children infected with Covid up to August 31st 2021 (or very nearly all).
This allows them to put upper bounds on the proportion of children who experience particular outcomes, such as death, hospitalisation or severe symptoms. It also means their findings can’t be attributed to selection effects whereby certain types of children were more or less likely to take part.
In total, 1,742 children aged under 18 tested positive (and reported symptoms) during the study period. This might seem low, but remember that Iceland didn’t see its first major outbreak until December of 2021.
Thors and colleagues’ main results are shown in the table below. Note: the criteria for “mild”, “moderate” and “severe” symptoms are those given by the WHO.