There are five confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Canada, and at least 560 people have died from the virus in China.
Even though it has spread to more than 20 countries, new research suggests that children have been largely spared by the virus.
A new report published in JAMA Network on Wednesday said that coronavirus cases in children “have been rare” and the median age of patients is between 49 and 56 years of age.
“Although most cases appear to be mild, all patients admitted to the hospital have pneumonia with infiltrates on chest x-ray and ground glass opacities on chest computed tomography,” authors of the paper wrote.
Dr. Carlos del Rio, the paper’s lead author, says at this point, why children seem to be less affected is “all speculative.”
“We know that pediatric cases (individuals under the age of 15) are rare, but I know they are not unheard of,” he told Global News.
The doctor added that in general, infections that affect the lungs, like pneumonia and the flu, tend to be more severe in older adults, as well as those with chronic conditions, in particular pulmonary problems.
The virus may not be affecting children the same way as adults because kids may experience a milder disease, doctors told the New York Times. Infected children may also not exhibit symptoms.
“It’s certainly true that children can be either asymptomatically infected or have very mild infection,” Dr. Raina MacIntyre, an epidemiologist at the University of New South Wales, told the Times.
Another recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 425 patients with the coronavirus and found no cases in children under the age of 15. The median age of those infected was 59 years old.
Researchers wrote that children might be less likely to become infected or, if they are infected, show milder symptoms.
Either of these situations, researchers said, “would account for underrepresentation in the confirmed case count.”