The Daily Dose: Mysteries of the coronavirus; rare illness affecting some COVID-19 positive children

Sign up for Scientific Inquirer’s Steady State Newsletter for the week’s top stories, exclusive interviews, and weekly giveaways. Plenty of value added but without the tax.

It can be argued that the point-of-no-return of every country’s decision to impose strict quarantines was closing schools. The knock-on effects of sending kids home are massive. Parents need to stay home. Education quality declines. Employers lose their employees. The economy suffers. That’s why there is a considerable eagerness for children to return to physical schools. Unfortunately, when it comes to children, the data is frustratingly mixed and thin. As per Science, “The evidence from studies done so far is not consistent. Researchers in Iceland, one of the few countries to conduct mass screening, turned up no infections in 848 children under the age of 10 without significant symptoms, compared with an infection rate of nearly 1% in ages 10 and older. A U.S. analysis of nearly 150,000 infected people found that just 1.7% were under age 18. But a study of 391 cases and almost 1300 close contacts in Shenzhen, China, reported that children were just as likely to be infected as adults.” Nobody denies the need to get kids back in front of their teachers. Until more is known, reopening schools amounts to little more than a role of the dice.

A picture is beginning to emerge that some children that have recovered from COVID-19 continue to be at risk. A number of countries around the world have reported them falling ill to a mysterious disease that has similarities to a rare disease. As per the New York TImes, “Many of the children, ages 2 to 15, have shown symptoms associated with toxic shock or Kawasaki disease, a rare illness in children that involves inflammation of the blood vessels, including coronary arteries, the city’s health department said… None of the New York City patients with the syndrome have died, according to a bulletin from the health department, which describes the illness as a ‘multisystem inflammatory syndrome potentially associated with Covid-19.’” This finding continues to muddy the waters when it comes to reopening schools.

As new symptoms of COVID-19 continue to be reported,the scientific community is coming to grips with a pathogen unlike anything in history. It’s multi-faceted ability to kill is both awe-inspiring and terrifying. There’s a lot of work to be done on the lab bench and out in the world. A Nature article explores what scientists know so far and where knowledge continues to lag. “Scientists are learning that the virus has evolved an array of adaptations that make it much more lethal than the other coronaviruses humanity has met so far. Unlike close relatives, SARS-CoV-2 can readily attack human cells at multiple points, with the lungs and the throat being the main targets. Once inside the body, the virus makes use of a diverse arsenal of dangerous molecules. And genetic evidence suggests that it has been hiding out in nature possibly for decades.” It makes for sober, but essential, reading.

The World Health Organization is calling on nations to investigate mysterious deaths from last year in light of a startling finding by French health officials. As per Reuters, “A French hospital which retested old samples from pneumonia patients discovered that it treated a man who had COVID-19 as early as Dec. 27, nearly a month before the French government confirmed its first cases.” The finding suggests that COVID-19 was more widespread globally than has been originally believed.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

Words matter. Images matter. The Scientific Inquirer needs your support. Help us pay our contributors for their hard work. Visit our Patreon page and discover ways that you can make a difference.

Leave a Reply