Early research suggests the coronavirus might be less harmful to children and pregnant women
It has been dominating the news of late, and now the first cases of the coronavirus (aka COVID-19) have been reported here in Ireland.
But while it is only natural to feel slightly worried about the outbreak now also being detected so close to home, experts are keen to reassure us that as of yet, there is no need to panic and that for the vast majority, the virus poses no lethal threat.
As well as this, a new study has just come out and is reassuring in that it claims that COVID-19 is possibly less harmful to children and pregnant women.
According to the study, published in The Lancet last Wednesday, very few children have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, and as well as this, it seems the virus does not pass from pregnant women to fetuses during pregnancy.
The new study was small and evaluated only nine pregnant women, but it nonetheless provides a first look at how the respiratory illness affects pregnancies.
“It appears that the transmission routes do not include amniotic fluid, cord blood, or breast milk, all of which may be routes for a vertical transmission,” the study’s co-author Wei Zhang, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told Healthline.
However, new mums who are infected with the coronavirus will likely need to be isolated from their newborns after birth to avoid infecting them via close contact, Zhang added.
As for children, the number of reported infections is remarkably low, even in China, where the COVID-19 originated.
"We're seeing [about] 75,000 total cases at this point, but the literature is only reporting about 100 or so pediatric cases," Terri Lynn Stillwell, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan explains to NPR.org.
What this means, she explains, is that it is possible that many more kids are infected but don't get sick enough to seek medical treatment. It's also possible that some infected children may develop no symptoms at all.
"So far, it appears that more than 80% of the [coronavirus] infections are pretty mild, no more severe than the common cold,' Cody Meissner, an infectious disease expert and professor of paediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine, says to NPR.org. "And children appear to have even milder infections than adults."
Note that this is based on preliminary data, he says.