18 months have passed after the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic. And its Delta variant is causing an unprecedented surge of new infections. At this stage, numerous hospitals are reporting heart-wrenching lows as many infants are dying because of COVID 19.
Florida was the first state to report the death of a newborn due to Coronavirus. Mississippi followed suit; COVID 19 killed a child in recent days. California reported the death of an infant below 1 year of age in August. The sight of children dying is heart-breaking, said a hospital.
Children’s Immune Systems Are Prone To COVID 19’s Delta Variant
Before the Delta variant was detected in summer, COVID 19 did not make children seriously ill. And scientists never understood the reason.
At present, there is no sufficient evidence to suggest that Delta variant makes more children ill. Still, because of its high transmissibility, hospitals are seeing an influx of pediatric patients. The situation is worst in states where the rate of vaccination is the lowest. Almost 30% of the new COVID 19 infections registered in the month of September were children.
Over 243,000 children were diagnosed with COVID 19 in one week. This makes the total number of children infected with the virus 5.3 million since the start of the pandemic. 530 among them died so far. The unfortunate situation is that this is the report of those under 18.
This is just basic math, experts say. If the rate of infections among children increases, the number of hospitalizations too will rise correspondingly. The current surge, however, makes the question relevant; how do children stay safe from severe illness due to COVID 19 at times? Why does this fail to work at times?
The question, according to health experts, is a complicated one. And they have to find an answer at the earliest. They are trying their best with all the tools available to them. But the answer takes time, they say.
A large number of studies show that children’s immune systems fight off the infection effectively before it can grow and spread. Certain pre-existing conditions like Down syndrome may be the reason, they say.
A team of scientists recently published a series of studies. They reported that children’s mucosal immune system is quite strong. COVID 19 virus generally infects the mucus membranes, but not the blood. These membranes protect your throat and lungs from the germs they come across. These are made up of epithelial cells. A lining of these cells also covers your internal organs. There are also certain powerful soldiers of the immune system called dendritic cells and macrophages. A particular type of protein named pattern receptors covers these cells. This guards the organs against the invasion of foreign substances.
If they notice anything strange, for instance, a virus, they alert the cells. They generate a protein called interferons. They coordinate the body’s fight against such substances.
A study published recently showed that these cells guard kids’ upper airways. And they deactivate viruses before they can spread.
The number of such cells is less in number among adults. As a result, their immune system takes up to two days to detect and fight off the germs like viruses. This makes the fight a hard-to-win one. When it happens, the body starts depending on its second line of soldiers, the adaptive immune system. This is great but can go wrong at times.
A hyperactive immune system generates an inflammation-like response. This destroys not only the viruses but also healthy cells. This may prove fatal for adults suffering from COVID 19. The inflammation becomes uncontrollable and fluid starts building up in the lungs. It may also cause blood clots.
Scientists, however, are confused as to why certain children are unable to cope with COVID 19 like this.
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