Scientists Baffled As Killer Coronavirus Appears Not To Infect Children

little boy with coronavirus mask
Ezra Acayan / Getty Images

Although the deadly coronavirus has swept through China and claimed hundreds of victims, there now appears to be a segment of the population that seems oddly immune to the virus: children. Among the 35,000 infected individuals, no child under 15 has been diagnosed with the illness before January 22, reports Business Insider.

Since then, there have been some reported cases of children getting the virus, mainly two newborns in China who had been diagnosed with the disease, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr. However, the number remains incredibly low considering the numbers of adults getting infected each day.

“From everything that we’ve seen, and for reasons that are unclear to us, it does seem that this is primarily impacting adults,” said Richard Martinello, an associate professor of infectious disease at the Yale School of Medicine.

However, Martinello cautioned that the data might not paint a full picture, as information about the deadly disease has come from adult hospitals that rarely treat children.

“Some of the reports that have come out so far from China have been from adult hospitals and not pediatric hospitals, so it could just be that we’re not seeing that data yet,” he added.

little girls in face masks
  Betsy Joles / Getty Images

Aaron Milstone, an epidemiologist and professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, said that it was fortunate children were being spared from many diagnoses in part because infected children could “amplify” outbreaks.

“If we can protect kids — one, it’s good for them, but two, it’s good for the population,” Milstone said. “If it does penetrate the pediatric population, that might amplify the outbreak.”

Though scientists do not currently understand why children seem less susceptible to the virus, they have noted that this is not the first time young people have seemed to be more resistant to a disease.

Children also represented a wildly small number cases in the 2003 SARS epidemic, which has been likened to today’s coronavirus crisis. Though 8,000 individuals were diagnosed with SARS between November 2002 and July 2003, only 80 of them were children. There were also no pediatric fatalities, whereas close to 774 adults lost their lives to the disease.

That said, these two cases are more the exception than the rule. Generally, children fare worse with diseases than adults, and experts say that the flu remains a serious threat around the globe for those under five.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to spread, and the latest death toll is estimated at 638 people, as was previously covered by The Inquisitr.