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Long COVID concerns among teens - but teachers safe

Thursday September 2nd 2021

Large numbers of children and teenagers who contracted COVID-19 may be suffering from long COVID, according to a major new analysis.

British researchers found that 14% of children and young people showed symptoms 15 weeks after infection was diagnosed through PCR tests.

Researchers compared more than 3,000 young people aged between 11 and 17 following infection with a control group of young people who tested negative during the same period, between January and March this year.

They defined long COVID as three or more symptoms, which unusual tiredness and headache being prevalent. Some 7% had five or more symptoms.

The findings are based on survey returns – and the researchers say this suggests that between 4,000 and 32,000 young people of this age group developed long COVID during the period. Some 220,000 young people were sent surveys and 17,000 responded.

The research was conducted by Public Health England and University College London, UK, and is to be published on the preprint site, Research Square.

Researcher Professor Sir Terence Stephenson said: “There is consistent evidence that some teenagers will have persisting symptoms after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. Our study supports this evidence, with headaches and unusual tiredness the most common complaints.

“The difference between the positive and negative groups is greater if we look at multiple symptoms, with those who had a positive test twice as likely to report three or more symptoms 15 weeks later.”

Teacher risk not increased

Teachers were not at increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 or being hospitalised with it during the 2020-21 academic year compared with similar working age adults, researchers report today.

Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University and the universities of Strathclyde, Edinburgh and Glasgow compared the risk of COVID-19 among teachers and their household members with healthcare workers and adults of working age in the general population, using Scottish data from March 2020 to July 2021.

Most teachers were young, with an average age of 42, 80% were women, and 84% had no comorbidities.

During the study period, the overall risk of hospital admission with COVID-19 was less than 1% for teachers, healthcare workers and adults of working age in the general population.

And after adjusting for factors such as age, sex, ethnicity and deprivation, the results, published in The BMJ, revealed that in the initial school closure of spring/summer 2020, the risk of hospital admission with COVID-19 was about 50% lower in teachers and their household members than in the general population.

During this same period, the risk was almost four times higher in patient-facing healthcare workers and almost twice as high in their household members.

When the researchers examined the school closure in the winter of 2020/20221, they found teachers and their household members had about a 50% lower risk of hospital admission than the general population.

In the autumn 2020 term, when schools fully reopened, there was about a 2.4-fold increase in teachers’ risk of hospital admission, similar to that in the general population.

In the summer 2021 term, when schools were open and vaccination programmes were under way, there was a 1.7-fold increased risk.

The research team, which also involved Public Health Scotland, found no increase in the relative risk of severe COVID-19 among teachers and their household members.

Although this is an observational study, they say the findings “should reassure those who are engaged in face-to-face teaching”.

Fenton L, Gribben C, Caldwell D et al. Risk of hospital admission with COVID-19 among teachers compared with healthcare workers and other adults of working age in Scotland, March 2020 to July 2021: population based case-control study. BMJ 2 September 2021. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.n2060

[abstract]

Tags: Child Health | Flu & Viruses | Pain Relief | UK News

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