New York, November 6 (IANS): Researchers found that children and adults produce different types and amounts of antibodies in response to a new coronavirus infection.
Differences in antibodies suggest that the course of SARS-CoV-2 infection and immune response is distinct in children, and most children easily clear the virus from their bodies, the study published in the journal Nature Immunology reported.
“Our study provides a thorough examination of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in children, revealing a stark contrast to adults,” said study author Donna Farber of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in the United States.
“In children, the course of infection is much shorter and probably not as widespread as in adults. Children can eliminate this virus more efficiently than adults and may not need a strong antibody immune response to get rid of it,” he said. Farber added.
One of the most striking manifestations of the Covid-19 pandemic is that most children cope well with the virus while older people struggle.
Among the 47 children in the study, 16 were treated for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C and 31 children of a similar age tested positive for the virus after visiting the medical center for treatment for other conditions.
Half of the children without MIS-C had no symptoms of Covid-19.
The 32 adults in the study ranged from severely affected patients admitted to hospital to those with milder illness who recovered at home.
Both groups of children produced the same antibody profile, according to the study, which differed from that of adults.
Compared to adults, the children produced fewer antibodies against the virus’s spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells.
The children’s antibodies had the least neutralizing activity, while all adults, including young adults in their 20s, produced neutralizing antibodies.
The sickest adults had the most neutralizing activity.
Unlike the adults, the children also produced very few antibodies against a viral protein that is only visible to the immune system after the virus has infected human cells.
“This suggests that in children, the infection doesn’t spread much and doesn’t kill many of their cells,” Farber said.
Furthermore, the antibody responses found in children do not suggest that children will have a weaker response to a vaccine, the researchers pointed out.