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Why Do Young Kids Rarely Get Severely Sick from COVID-19? Stanford Medicine Investigates
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By News
Published 6 months ago on
October 13, 2023

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A recent study led by Stanford Medicine has shed light on why children under the age of two rarely experience severe symptoms from COVID-19. The research, conducted in collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, analyzed nasal and blood samples from 54 infants infected with SARS-CoV-2 and 27 children who tested negative.

The study found that while adults’ SARS-specific antibody levels quickly peak and then drop significantly within six months, infants’ antibodies either plateau at a high level or continue to rise throughout a 300-day observation period. This unexpected finding suggests that children’s immune responses to the virus are more sustained than those of adults.

Additionally, the researchers noted a significant increase in inflammation-promoting proteins in the blood of adults with even mild COVID-19 cases, a phenomenon not observed in infected children. However, these proteins were found in abundance in the nasal cavities of infected children, indicating a robust immune response that may prevent the virus from spreading to the lungs.

The study’s lead was Stanford Medicine professor of microbiology and immunology and of pathology Bali Pulendran, PhD. He is now exploring whether these findings could be applied to other respiratory infections.

Nasal Spray to Prevent COVID-19 in Adults?

Pulendran also envisions the potential development of a nasal spray that could stimulate the same immune response in adults’ upper respiratory tracts as seen in infants, potentially preventing the virus from taking hold.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Open Philanthropy, and the Violetta L. Horton and Soffer Endowments.

Read more at Stanford Medicine.

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