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Why are children 'missing' from coronavirus outbreak cases? [livescience.com]
So far, it seems that youth protects against the worst effects of 2019-nCoV.
The outbreak of a new coronavirus in China has killed more than 900 people, but one group has escaped with minimal damage: children.
Youth can certainly contract the virus. Among the infected are at least two newborns, according to Chinese health officials. But few children are among those sick enough to be diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to an article published Feb. 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association [jamanetwork.com]. According to the data analyzed in that article — and numbers are changing quickly as the outbreak evolves — the median age of patients skews older, between 49 and 56 years old.
It's not entirely clear why children seem to be escaping the worst effects of the virus, dubbed 2019-nCoV. But a similar pattern holds for many infectious diseases, from the familiar, such as chickenpox and measles, to the newly emerged, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), doctors say.
According to a report [chinadaily.com.cn] in local news site China Daily, the deputy head of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, Zeng Qun, revealed the potentially troubling development over the weekend at a media briefing concerning government efforts to contain the virus’ spread.
Mr Qun said transmission routes of the coronavirus included direct transmission, contact transmission and aerosol transmission.
‘Aerosol transmission refers to the mixing of the virus with droplets in the air to form aerosols, which causes infection after inhalation, according to medical experts,’ he said.
‘As such, we have called on the public to raise their awareness of the prevention and control of the disease caused by family gatherings.’
While Associate Professor Ian Mackay, a virologist at the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre, told newsGP he would not be surprised if coronavirus could be transmitted by an airborne route, he said there is ‘zero public-reviewed experimental evidence’ to support the claim.
Meanwhile, doctors in New South Wales have reportedly [sbs.com.au] made a ‘research breakthrough’, according to the state’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard. Minister Hazzard said extensive testing on an isolated patient at Westmead Hospital has allowed scientists to isolate the virus and study eight variants, producing two full genome sequences in the process.
The seasonal flu has killed more people than the coronavirus, but that is not why the outbreak is so concerning, infectious disease expert Ian Lipkin told CNBC on Monday.
“It’s a new virus. We don’t know much about it, and therefore we’re all concerned to make certain it doesn’t evolve into something even worse,” said Lipkin, speaking from his New York home on a 14-day self-quarantine after traveling to China to work on the outbreak.
Lipkin, who worked on the 2003 SARS outbreak, said it is true that seasonal flu presents its own kind of problem, noting that globally up to 650,000 people die from it each year.
So far, more than 900 people who had the coronavirus have died.
The coronavirus is “not nearly as challenging for us as influenza” when seen strictly by the number of deaths, Lipkin said.
But that is not the only lens through which the outbreak should be viewed, he cautioned.
“We don’t know much about its transmissibility. We don’t necessarily have accurate diagnostic tests. And we don’t really know where the outbreak is going to go,” Lipkin said on CNBC’s “The Exchange.”
“The only thing we have at present, absent vaccines or drugs, is containment,” he added.