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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNDER DEVELOPMENT UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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Systematic analysis of infectious disease outcomes by age shows lowest severity in school-age children

AUTHOR(S)
Judith R. Glynn; Paul A. H. Moss

Published: October 2020   Journal: Scientific Data

The COVID-19 pandemic has ignited interest in age-specific manifestations of infection but surprisingly little is known about relative severity of infectious disease between the extremes of age. In a systematic analysis, this study identifies 142 datasets with information on severity of disease by age for 32 different infectious diseases, 19 viral and 13 bacterial. For almost all infections, school-age children have the least severe disease, and severity starts to rise long before old age. Indeed, for many infections even young adults have more severe disease than children, and dengue was the only infection that was most severe in school-age children. Together with data on vaccine response in children and young adults, the findings suggest peak immune function is reached around 5–14 years of age. Relative immune senescence may begin much earlier than assumed, before accelerating in older age groups. This has major implications for understanding resilience to infection, optimal vaccine scheduling, and appropriate health protection policies across the life course.

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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.

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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.