A new study by UK researchers found the fatality rate for youth and children under the age of 18 from COVID-19 was five times lower than from suicide and ten times lower than from trauma.
The preprint study utilized the UK’s National Child Mortality Database in conjunction with Public Health England to first identify how many people under the age of 18 died with a positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Researchers then conducted a clinical review of data “to differentiate between those who died of SARS-CoV-2 infection and those who died of an alternative cause but coincidentally tested positive.”
Researchers found that while a total of 3,105 people under 18 died from all causes in the UK, only 61 died with a positive PCR test, and only 25 actually died from a SARS-CoV-2 viral infection. The COVID-19 mortality rate was 2 per million in the UK under-18 population.
“During the same time period studied there were 124 deaths from suicide and 268 deaths from trauma, emphasising COVID-19 is rarely fatal in CYP [Children and Young People],” noted researchers.
Of the youth who were confirmed to have died from a SARS-CoV-2 infection, the study found 18 were over the age of 10, with a clean split between sexes at 12 males and 13 females. Somewhat more Asians and blacks died compared to other races, accounting for 36 and 20 percent of the deaths, respectively.
They also found 6 of the 25 deaths had no underlying comorbidities, while 13 had neurological comorbidities, the most common type. 13 died while in the intensive care unit (ICU) or in a hospital ward, while the remaining 12 either died at home or in the emergency room.
“Our findings emphasise the importance of underlying comorbidities as the main risk factor for death, as 76% had chronic conditions, 64% had multiple comorbidities, and 60% had life-limiting conditions. The comorbidity group at highest risk were those with complex neurodisability, who comprised 52% of all deaths,” said the authors.
In a February 2 article by BBC, Dr. John Wright of Bradford Royal Infirmary waxed about the damage the country’s protracted lockdown measures had inflicted on the youth’s mental health, “Children are a lost tribe in the pandemic. While they remain (for the most part) perplexingly immune to the health consequences of Covid-19, their lives and daily routines have been turned upside down.”
“Children in mental health crisis used to be brought to A&E [the UK term for emergency room] about twice a week. Since the summer it’s been more like once or twice a day. Some as young as 10 have cut themselves, taken overdoses, or tried to asphyxiate themselves,” said Wright, adding A&E staff in Scotland, Portsmouth, and Northern Ireland have also reported the same phenomena.
The article described cases of self-harm, overdoses, eating disorders, such as that of a “pale-looking teenage boy, lying quietly in a cubicle” Consultant Dave Greenhorn encountered on a night that saw 94 people come through the doors, “The notes show that the boy has attended the Emergency Department every other day for two weeks. Before now he has taken small overdoses and told staff he wants to die. He has a child and adolescent psychiatrist and support worker but there is no firm diagnosis of mental illness.”
“One of the problems is that lockdown has prevented everyone from accessing their own safety valves,” says Wright of the experience Greenhorn recounted. “The boy has previously mentioned that he misses going out with his friends. Now he’s stuck at home, and so are other members of his family. Unable to get away for a few hours peace [sic], the mum says she’s at the end of her tether and can’t deal with her son at home on this particular night.”
“On previous admissions to the paediatric ward the boy has been hard to look after, so it’s been agreed he shouldn’t be sent there, but he doesn’t want to go to an adult ward. In the end he spends the night in A&E.”