BACKGROUND: We hypothesised that the clinical characteristics of hospitalised children and young people (CYP) with SARS-CoV-2 in the UK second wave (W2) would differ from the first wave (W1) due to the alpha variant (B.1.1.7), school reopening and relaxation of shielding.
METHODS: Prospective multicentre observational cohort study of patients <19 years hospitalised in the UK with SARS-CoV-2 between 17/01/20 and 31/01/21. Clinical characteristics were compared between W1 and W2 (W1 = 17/01/20-31/07/20,W2 = 01/08/20-31/01/21).
RESULTS: 2044 CYP < 19 years from 187 hospitals. 427/2044 (20.6%) with asymptomatic/incidental SARS-CoV-2 were excluded from main analysis. 16.0% (248/1548) of symptomatic CYP were admitted to critical care and 0.8% (12/1504) died. 5.6% (91/1617) of symptomatic CYP had Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). After excluding CYP with MIS-C, patients in W2 had lower Paediatric Early Warning Scores (PEWS, composite vital sign score), lower antibiotic use and less respiratory and cardiovascular support than W1. The proportion of CYP admitted to critical care was unchanged. 58.0% (938/1617) of symptomatic CYP had no reported comorbidity. Patients without co-morbidities were younger (42.4%, 398/938, <1 year), had lower PEWS, shorter length of stay and less respiratory support.
CONCLUSIONS: We found no evidence of increased disease severity in W2 vs W1. A large proportion of hospitalised CYP had no comorbidity.
IMPACT: No evidence of increased severity of COVID-19 admissions amongst children and young people (CYP) in the second vs first wave in the UK, despite changes in variant, relaxation of shielding and return to face-to-face schooling. CYP with no comorbidities made up a significant proportion of those admitted. However, they had shorter length of stays and lower treatment requirements than CYP with comorbidities once those with MIS-C were excluded. At least 20% of CYP admitted in this cohort had asymptomatic/incidental SARS-CoV-2 infection. This paper was presented to SAGE to inform CYP vaccination policy in the UK.
Swann, O., Pollock, L., Holden, K., Munro, A., Bennett, A., Williams, T., Turtle, L., Fairfield, C., Drake, T., Faust, S., Sinha, I., Roland, D., Whittaker, E., Ladhani, S., Nguyen-Van-Tam, J., Girvan, M., Donohue, C., Donegan, C., Spencer, R., Hardwick, H., Openshaw, P., Baillie, J., Harrison, E., Docherty, A., Semple, M. & ISARIC4C Investigators 2022, 'Comparison of UK paediatric SARS-CoV-2 admissions across the first and second pandemic waves', Pediatric Research. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-022-02052-5