Early reports from a leading US cancer centre have provided reassurance that paediatric cancer patients are not at increased risk of COVID-19 infection or severe complications.
Screening of 178 paediatric patients treated at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center found that 11.2% (20) tested positive for COVID-19 infection.
However almost all of the children who tested positive had mild or asymptomatic disease and only one required medical treatment for non-critical COVID-19 sypmtoms, the clinicians report in JAMA Oncology.
Another notable features of COVID-19 in paediatric cancer patients was that the disease occurred predominantly in males, with only three of the twenty cases in females.
Also, the rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection among asymptomatic paediatric patients was very low, at only 2.5% of screen negative, symptom negative patients.
However the Sloan Kettering review did find a 15% rate of COVID-19 positive results in 68 asymptomatic caregivers. Five of the children were negative for virus despite close exposure to caregivers with COVID-19.
“This report suggests that paediatric patients with cancer may not be more vulnerable than other children to infection or morbidity resulting from SARS-CoV-2,” said the study authors.
“Together, our results do not support the conjecture that children are a reservoir of unrecognized SARS-CoV-2 infection,” they added.