Children produce different antibodies in response to COVID-19 than adults -
Children produce different antibodies in response to COVID-19 than adults
Posted 06 Nov 2020 01:14 PM


Children produce different antibodies in response to COVID-19 than adults

New Delhi, 6-Nov-2020

COVID-19 infection among children has been the most talked about when it comes to the pandemic. Initially believed to not develop any severe symptoms due to the novel coronavirus infection, children were later not only placed in the high-risk category, but they saw complications such as multi-system inflammatory syndrome very common among kids. They were also called super-spreaders of the coronavirus infection, as they became carriers of the virus when they stepped out to play, or run any errands. Even as complications such as MSIS were reported in some children, most children with COVID-19 got away with mild infections, without suffering from any severe symptoms. Researchers have now found why that may have been possible.

Children and adults produce different types and amounts of antibodies
According to a new study conducted by researchers at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the amount and type of antibodies produced by children and adults as a response to COVID-19 infection may differ. This difference could also be the cause of the difference in the course of infection, and immune response in both age groups. "Our study provides an in-depth examination of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in kids, revealing a stark contrast with adults," says Columbia University immunologist Donna Farber, PhD. According to Matteo Porotto, Ph.D., associate professor of viral molecular pathogenesis in Columbia's Department of Pediatrics, who co-led the study, "In kids, the infectious course is much shorter and probably not as disseminated as in adults.� "Kids may clear this virus more efficiently than adults and they may not need a strong antibody immune response to get rid of it,� he added.

Children are less affected by novel coronavirus infections
A pattern that has been observed in children infected with COVID-19 all around the world is that they do not struggle with severe symptoms of the infection, while older people can find themselves with COVID-19 symptoms for weeks, and even at a high risk of death due to the complications. Explaining why this happens, Faber says, "This is a new infection for everybody, but children are uniquely adapted to see pathogens for the first time. That's what their immune system is designed to do. Children have a lot of naive T cells that are able to recognize all sorts of new pathogens, whereas older people depend more on our immunological memories. We're not as able to respond to a new pathogen as children can." According to the study, out of the 47 children enrolled, 16 were treated at Columbia University Irving Medical Center for MIS-C and 31 children of similar ages had tested positive for the virus after visiting the medical centre for the treatment of other conditions. About half of children without MIS-C had no COVID-19 symptoms at all. However, the 32 adults enrolled in the study showed a range of symptoms � from a mild disease that recovered at home to severe symptoms that required hospitalization.

Children make fewer COVID-19 antibodies
When the antibody profile of participants in the above study was looked at, the study found that it differed for both groups of children and adults. It was found that children produced fewer antibodies than adults against the novel coronavirus. It was also observed that antibodies in children had least neutralizing activity, while all adults, including young adults in their 20s, produced neutralizing antibodies against the virus. People who had the most severe symptoms had the most neutralizing activity, which according to researchers reflects the amount of time virus is present in the sickest patients. "There is a connection between the magnitude of your immune response and the magnitude of the infection: The more severe the infection, the more robust the immune response, because you need to have more immune cells and immune reactions to clear a higher dose of a pathogen,� Faber said.

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