ATLANTA — While there are confirmed cases of children contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus, health experts can only speculate why the number is low when compared to other age groups.
Early data from China revealed the majority of people getting ill were between the ages of 40 and 60, with very few cases involving people under the age of 19.
The most recent numbers from the Georgia Department of Public Health show that 1% of all confirmed coronavirus cases involve children under the age of 17. The majority of cases, 60%, involve people between the ages of 18-59.
Dr. Jose Cordero, a professor at the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health, says the answer may lie with what happens naturally to the body as we age.
“Probably it’s because their immune system is a little bit stronger than, say, for those 65 and older,” says Dr. Cordero. “That’s an important clue and more study needs to be done.”
The Centers for Disease Control reports that the children diagnosed with COVID-19 generally have not gotten as sick as adults.
“While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date,” says the CDC website. “Children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms. There is much more to be learned about how the disease impacts children.”
There’s the possibility that the number of children getting sick from the coronavirus is underreported.
“We know the children can be infected with the coronavirus, but many of the cases may be very mild in nature,” says Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It could be the testing has excluded them because the illness is not severe enough to be captured by testing protocols.”
Still, some children are getting sick and could be spreading the virus.
“Children do transmit quite a bit but don’t get very sick,” says Dr. Cordero.
A study by the CDC found that children are far more likely to get sick with the flu than someone over the age of 65.