Long COVID In Children: How Long Does It Last?

The COVID-19 situation may have improved drastically in the recent months compared to when the pandemic started, but some people are still left with traces of the virus through symptoms that manifest longer than the usual. This is common among long COVID sufferers, and even kids are not spared from this condition. 

Understanding Long COVID

As its name suggests, the condition pertains to when symptoms of COVID-19 persist way after the infection is over. Also referred to as chronic COVID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has dubbed the condition a disability that is characterized by the long-term effects of COVID to the body. The public health agency also indicated that experts around the world are still working on fully understanding what causes this and who are at risk. 

Typically, most SARS-CoV-2 patients recover within 2 to 6 weeks. However, there is mounting evidence that some people suffer the effects of the infection for way longer. A study published in Nature in May showed that one in 20 unvaccinated people who are asymptomatic deal with the symptoms for at least eight weeks. On the other hand, one in 50 may experience the symptoms for three months or more. 

Long COVID In Children

Just like adults, kids are also at risk of having long COVID. However, the figure is way lower than the cases involving adults. After all, most children and teens who test positive for the virus manifest little to no symptoms. For those who have the symptoms, they tend to get better in a few weeks. But a fraction will have the symptoms months after the infection. 

Biology professor and virologist at Montclair State University Dr. Sandra Adams told NJ Advance Media last week that the number of kids who have long COVID varies from 5% to 15% worldwide. But just because the figure is at the lower end of the spectrum doesn’t mean that the cases should be ignored. Dealing with long-term symptoms is not only tiring, it could also interfere with the kids’ daily lives. 

Does Vaccination Help?

For the adult population, experts are recommending the COVID-19 vaccines as one of the means to lower their chances of having long COVID. A survey conducted by patient-led group LongCovidSOS found that among 800 long COVID sufferers, more than half experienced an improvement in their condition after getting vaccinated. 

In children, there is still a lot to learn about the lingering symptoms in both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Early this month, the CDC signed off on the rollout of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11. Since the rollout has just begun and the pediatric vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have not been approved yet, data on the effects of Pfizer’s vaccine in young long COVID sufferers is still inadequate. 

One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that one in 25 kids deal with coronavirus symptoms for more than 12 weeks. Experts said that interventions in the form of vaccinations do help resolve symptoms in children within weeks. Without it, it could take months before the young patients could go symptom-free. This suggests that the vaccines could really make a big difference especially in children with long COVID.

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