A year and a half after the Coronavirus pandemic wrecked our collective lives, our society has been grappling with fear and insecurity. As a result, we have seen misinformation spread like wildfire, and many resorting to bizarre and incorrect methods of dealing with the virus. With this column, which will be published every Sunday, we aim to address any health or vaccine-related question our readers might have about the coronavirus pandemic.
In this week’s column, Dr. Zahid Hussain MBBS, DCH, DNB, MRCPCH (UK) and Consultant Paediatrician (Ladakh) talks about the hindrance geographical terrains cause in spreading COVID awareness in Ladakh and discusses how breastfeeding boosts the immunity of kids against COVID-19.
Are kids at the risk of suffering from long COVID?
Till now it has been observed that Covid-19 does not affect kids much. In the majority of the cases, it causes mild or asymptomatic disease. There has been no long-term effect seen.
How does coronavirus impact kids below 12? Why are they not eligible for the vaccine currently?
Both third and fourth national serosurveys have shown that though these children are as susceptible as adults in catching the infection, the disease remains asymptomatic or mild, with most kids develop mild flu-like symptoms such as cold, cough, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.
Since adults are more likely to develop severe disease, the vaccine was first given to them. The government prioritized people above 60 years of age and people with comorbidities because they are most susceptible to developing severe disease and hospitalisation. Mortality is also very high in this age group.
But many vaccine manufacturers are already studying the safety and efficacy of vaccines in children. And hopefully, soon vaccines will be available for children as well.
How can children’s diet affect their COVID immunity? What food should they avoid?
A balanced and nutritious diet is necessary to main good health and wellbeing. Breastfeeding is likely to boost the immunity of infants against Covid-19. There is no data to suggest which food should be avoided to lessen the impact of Covid19.
Is asymptomatic COVID a cause for concern among kids? Do those who have asymptomatic COVID suffer from long COVID?
Yes, asymptomatic Covid-19 remains a cause of concern especially in kids because they are known to be super spreaders. Generally, kids don’t follow Covid-19 preventive measures strictly so they can catch and spread the infection to others. Asymptomatic Covid are unlikely to have any long-term effects.
What are the new COVID symptoms among kids particularly for the Delta variant?
The delta variant is more contagious for everyone, including children. In children, the common symptoms we have seen are headache, sore throat, running nose, and fever. Cough and loss of smell however are less common.
How hard is it to raise awareness about COVID among parents in a place like Ladakh?
Yes, it has been hard to raise awareness among the parents and public in general about Covid-19 in children because of the geographical barriers. But constant efforts of the health department, other organisations, and public participation there have been a considerable improvement in the situation.