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1.
PLoS One ; 17(2): e0263741, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1690714

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Despite their clear lesser vulnerability to COVID-19, the extent by which children are susceptible to getting infected by SARS-CoV-2 and their capacity to transmit the infection to other people remains inadequately characterized. We aimed to evaluate the role of school reopening and the preventive strategies in place at schools in terms of overall risk for children and community transmission, by comparing transmission rates in children as detected by a COVID-19 surveillance platform in place in Catalonian Schools to the incidence at the community level. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Infections detected in Catalan schools during the entire first trimester of classes (September-December 2020) were analysed and compared with the ongoing community transmission and with the modelled predicted number of infections. There were 30.486 infections (2.12%) documented among the circa 1.5M pupils, with cases detected in 54.0% and 97.5% of the primary and secondary centres, respectively. During the entire first term, the proportion of "bubble groups" (stable groups of children doing activities together) that were forced to undergo confinement ranged between 1 and 5%, with scarce evidence of substantial intraschool transmission in the form of chains of infections, and with ~75% of all detected infections not leading to secondary cases. Mathematical models were also used to evaluate the effect of different parameters related to the defined preventive strategies (size of the bubble group, number of days of confinement required by contacts of an index case). The effective reproduction number inside the bubble groups in schools (R*), defined as the average number of schoolmates infected by each primary case within the bubble, was calculated, yielding a value of 0.35 for primary schools and 0.55 for secondary schools, and compared with the outcomes of the mathematical model, implying decreased transmissibility for children in the context of the applied measures. Relative homogenized monthly cumulative incidence ([Formula: see text]) was assessed to compare the epidemiological dynamics among different age groups and this analysis suggested the limited impact of infections in school-aged children in the context of the overall community incidence. CONCLUSIONS: During the fall of 2020, SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19 cases detected in Catalan schools closely mirrored the underlying community transmission from the neighbourhoods where they were set and maintaining schools open appeared to be safe irrespective of underlying community transmission. Preventive measures in place in those schools appeared to be working for the early detection and rapid containment of transmission and should be maintained for the adequate and safe functioning of normal academic and face-to-face school activities.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Residence Characteristics , Schools , Basic Reproduction Number , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/transmission , Humans , Incidence , Models, Theoretical , Spain/epidemiology
2.
Front Immunol ; 13: 751705, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1686480

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 affects children to a lesser extent than adults but they can still get infected and transmit SARS-CoV-2 to their contacts. Field deployable non-invasive sensitive diagnostic techniques are needed to evaluate the infectivity dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in pediatric populations and guide public health interventions, particularly if this population is not fully vaccinated. We evaluated the utility of high-throughput Luminex assays to quantify saliva IgM, IgA and IgG antibodies against five SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N) antigens in a contacts and infectivity longitudinal study in 122 individuals (52 children and 70 adults). We compared saliva versus serum/plasma samples in infected children and adults diagnosed by weekly RT-PCR over 35 days (n=62), and those who consistently tested negative over the same follow up period (n=60), in the Summer of 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. Saliva antibody levels in SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positive individuals were significantly higher than in negative individuals and correlated with those measured in sera/plasmas. Asymptomatic infected individuals had higher levels of anti-S IgG than symptomatic individuals, suggesting a protective anti-disease role for antibodies. Higher anti-S IgG and IgM levels in serum/plasma and saliva, respectively, in infected children compared to infected adults could also be related to stronger clinical immunity in them. Among infected children, males had higher levels of saliva IgG to N and RBD than females. Despite overall correlation, individual clustering analysis suggested that responses that may not be detected in blood could be patent in saliva, and vice versa. In conclusion, measurement of SARS-CoV-2-specific saliva antibodies should be considered as a complementary non-invasive assay to serum/plasma to determine COVID-19 prevalence and transmission in pediatric populations before and after vaccination campaigns.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/analysis , COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Immunoassay/methods , Saliva , Adult , Child , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin A/analysis , Immunoglobulin G/analysis , Immunoglobulin M/analysis , Male , SARS-CoV-2 , Spain
3.
Clin Infect Dis ; 74(1): 66-73, 2022 01 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1633721

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Understanding the role of children in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission is critical to guide decision-making for schools in the pandemic. We aimed to describe the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among children and adult staff in summer schools. METHODS: During July 2020, we prospectively recruited children and adult staff attending summer schools in Barcelona who had SARS-CoV-2 infection. Primary SARS-CoV-2 infections were identified through (1) a surveillance program in 22 summer schools of 1905 participants, involving weekly saliva sampling for SARS-CoV-2 reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) during 2-5 weeks; and (2) cases identified through the Catalonian Health Surveillance System of children diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection by nasopharyngeal RT-PCR. All centers followed prevention protocols: bubble groups, handwashing, face masks, and conducting activities mostly outdoors. Contacts of a primary case within the same bubble were evaluated by nasopharyngeal RT-PCR. Secondary attack rates and the effective reproduction number in summer schools (Re*) were calculated. RESULTS: Among the >2000 repeatedly screened participants, 30 children and 9 adults were identified as primary cases. A total of 253 close contacts of these primary cases were studied (median, 9 [interquartile range, 5-10] for each primary case), among which 12 new cases (4.7%) were positive for SARS-CoV-2. The Re* was 0.3, whereas the contemporary rate in the general population from the same areas in Barcelona was 1.9. CONCLUSIONS: The transmission rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection among children attending school-like facilities under strict prevention measures was lower than that reported for the general population. This suggests that under preventive measures schools are unlikely amplifiers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, supporting current recommendations for school opening.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Adult , Child , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Schools , Spain/epidemiology
4.
Frontiers in public health ; 9, 2021.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1563781

ABSTRACT

Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown strategies have been widely used to contain SARS-CoV-2 virus spread. Children and adolescents are especially vulnerable to suffering psychological effects as result of such measures. In Spain, children were enforced to a strict home lockdown for 42 days during the first wave. Here, we studied the effects of lockdown in children and adolescents through an online questionnaire. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Spain using an open online survey from July (after the lockdown resulting from the first pandemic wave) to November 2020 (second wave). We included families with children under 16 years-old living in Spain. Parents answered a survey regarding the lockdown effects on their children and were instructed to invite their children from 7 to 16 years-old (mandatory scholar age in Spain) to respond a specific set of questions. Answers were collected through an application programming interface system, and data analysis was performed using R. Results: We included 1,957 families who completed the questionnaires, covering a total of 3,347 children. The specific children's questionnaire was completed by 167 kids (7–11 years-old), and 100 adolescents (12–16 years-old). Children, in general, showed high resilience and capability to adapt to new situations. Sleeping problems were reported in more than half of the children (54%) and adolescents (59%), and these were strongly associated with less time doing sports and spending more than 5 h per day using electronic devices. Parents perceived their children to gain weight (41%), be more irritable and anxious (63%) and sadder (46%). Parents and children differed significantly when evaluating children's sleeping disturbances. Conclusions: Enforced lockdown measures and isolation can have a negative impact on children and adolescent's mental health and well-being. In future waves of the current pandemic, or in the light of potential epidemics of new emerging infections, lockdown measures targeting children, and adolescents should be reconsidered taking into account their infectiousness potential and their age-specific needs, especially to facilitate physical activity and to limit time spent on electronic devices.

5.
iScience ; 25(1): 103595, 2022 Jan 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1561439

ABSTRACT

It is unclear why COVID-19 ranges from asymptomatic to severe. When SARS-CoV-2 is detected, interferon (IFN) response is activated. When it is insufficient or delayed, it might lead to overproduction of cytokines and severe COVID-19. The aim was to compare cytokine and IFN patterns in children and adults with differing severity with SARS-CoV-2.It was a prospective, observational study, including 84 patients. Patients with moderate/severe disease had higher cytokines' values than patients with mild disease (p< 0.001).Two IFN genes were selected to build a decision tree for severity classification: SOCS1 (representative of the rest of the IFN genes) and CIITA (inverse correlation). Low values of CIITA and high values of SOCS1 indicated severe disease. This method correctly classified 33/38(86.8%) of children and 27/34 (79.4%) of adults. To conclude, patients with severe disease had an elevated cytokine pattern, which correlated with the IFN response, with low CIITA and high SOCS1 values.

6.
BMC Med ; 19(1): 309, 2021 11 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1528684

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Surveillance tools to estimate viral transmission dynamics in young populations are essential to guide recommendations for school opening and management during viral epidemics. Ideally, sensitive techniques are required to detect low viral load exposures among asymptomatic children. We aimed to estimate SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in children and adult populations in a school-like environment during the initial COVID-19 pandemic waves using an antibody-based field-deployable and non-invasive approach. METHODS: Saliva antibody conversion defined as ≥ 4-fold increase in IgM, IgA, and/or IgG levels to five SARS-CoV-2 antigens including spike and nucleocapsid constructs was evaluated in 1509 children and 396 adults by high-throughput Luminex assays in samples collected weekly in 22 summer schools and 2 pre-schools in 27 venues in Barcelona, Spain, from June 29th to July 31st, 2020. RESULTS: Saliva antibody conversion between two visits over a 5-week period was 3.22% (49/1518) or 2.36% if accounting for potentially cross-reactive antibodies, six times higher than the cumulative infection rate (0.53%) assessed by weekly saliva RT-PCR screening. IgG conversion was higher in adults (2.94%, 11/374) than children (1.31%, 15/1144) (p=0.035), IgG and IgA levels moderately increased with age, and antibodies were higher in females. Most antibody converters increased both IgG and IgA antibodies but some augmented either IgG or IgA, with a faster decay over time for IgA than IgG. Nucleocapsid rather than spike was the main antigen target. Anti-spike antibodies were significantly higher in individuals not reporting symptoms than symptomatic individuals, suggesting a protective role against COVID-19. CONCLUSION: Saliva antibody profiling including three isotypes and multiplexing antigens is a useful and user-friendlier tool for screening pediatric populations to detect low viral load exposures among children, particularly while they are not vaccinated and vulnerable to highly contagious variants, and to recommend public health policies during pandemics.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Adult , Antibodies, Viral , Child , Child, Preschool , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin G , Pandemics , Saliva , Schools , Spain/epidemiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
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