More than 10% of Israeli children who have contracted the coronavirus show signs of suffering corresponding to what is called a long COVID, the health ministry said on Monday.
According to the data, collected in a follow-up survey of parents of 13,864 children aged 3 to 18 who had recovered from the virus, 11.2% reported symptoms of COVID along.
Among those who reported long-term symptoms, 1.8% of children under 12 and 4.6% of those aged 12 to 18 still had symptoms six months after being diagnosed, the survey, noting that the likelihood increased with age.
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Among those aged 12 to 18, the likelihood of a long COVID was higher among those with symptoms of the coronavirus. However, researchers also found a long form of COVID even in 3.5% of children who were asymptomatic when they tested positive.
More than 200,000 children under the age of 18 have tested positive in Israel, about half of them asymptomatic, according to the survey.
“This means that there are currently thousands of children in Israel who are suffering from long-term effects,” the statement said.
Children, masked due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in a street in the ultra-Orthodox town of Bnei Brak, September 6, 2020 (Jack Guez / AFP)
The coronavirus elicits a long-lasting immune response from the body that attacks the body rather than the virus, which may explain why some patients continue to have various symptoms long after they have been cleared of the infection, scientists have found.
The result can damage the body, including the brain, blood vessels and liver, areas that have been observed to suffer in people with symptoms of what is called long-term COVID – an ongoing illness, fatigue or shortness of breath in people who have been infected and then recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
According to a recent report from Yale University, long-term COVID is thought to affect around 10% of patients aged 18 to 49 with the coronavirus, and up to 20% of people over the age of 70.
A medical officer performed a rapid COVID-19 test on a child at a testing station outside the Science Museum in Jerusalem on August 19, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90)
According to the survey, 30% of parents of those affected reported deterioration in “neurological, cognitive and mental health abilities”, including sleep and concentration disturbances, compared to the situation before the children were born. test positive for COVID-19.
However, the statement cautions that in the absence of a control group, all of these effects cannot be definitively attributed to the virus, noting that the effects of repeated lockdowns, school closures and the the conflict between Israel and Hamas in May, in which thousands of rockets were fired at civilians, may also have affected the well-being of children.
She also noted that the investigation was based on personal statements and not on doctors’ diagnoses.
“However, these results are in themselves distressing and call for further investigation into the effects of the coronavirus period on the cognitive / mental health situation of children in Israel,” the study said.
The health ministry said it received 94% responses to the survey, which covered all sectors of the Israeli population.
Health Ministry data released Friday morning shows more than half of COVID cases are from school-aged children, although traditional children have generally not been as affected by the coronavirus.
More than 41,000 of the current active cases involve school-aged children, and a further 108,000 students are in compulsory quarantine due to their exposure. Almost 56% of those who tested positive on Sunday were students.
An Israeli teenager receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a Maccabi clinic in Tel Aviv, June 22, 2021 (Avshalom Sassoni / Flash90)
Israel has launched a major vaccination campaign for children between the ages of 12 and 18, since the children returned to school in early September. Nonetheless, the number of cases of the virus in Israel has increased as the country struggles to cope with the Delta variant and declining immunity from vaccinations.
Also on Monday, Channel 12 reported that the health ministry is expected to ease restrictions on children under 12, who are too young to be vaccinated, in response to growing parents’ frustration over testing requirements. .
The ministry should stop requiring children under the age of 12 to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to be able to access public swimming pools. The cabinet has yet to approve the measure, but it should do so on Tuesday, according to the channel.
If the number of cases continues to decline next week, the requirement to test children at restaurants and outdoor attractions such as amusement parks will also be lifted, according to the report.
The health ministry is also working on unveiling a pilot program of rapid test kits for use by students to avoid having to be quarantined after exposure to the virus, Channel 12 reported. However, it is not clear if the budget exists to make these tests available year round.
In addition, the Ministry of Health announced Monday that 7,781 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus during the past day, with a positivity rate of 5.22%.
According to the figures, 684 patients are hospitalized in serious condition across the country, including 247 in critical condition and 186 on ventilators.
A total of 7,406 people have died since the start of the epidemic.