Friday, 26 Feb 2021

New mutant Covid strain to ‘infect more children’ suggests new study

Children could be "equally susceptible" to the new strain of Covid as adults, a government scientist has warned.

Professor Wendy Barclay's comments come as new research said rapidly rising infections are "unlikely" to go down without shutting schools and universities.

The Imperial College London academic and member of No10's advisory group NERVTAG said: "The newer virus has an easier time doing that (getting into cells) and children are therefore equally susceptible, perhaps, to this virus as adults.

"Given their mixing patterns, you would expect to see more children being infected.

"It's not because the virus is specifically targeting children, but that it is now less inhibited."

Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist of Imperial College London and member of NERVTAG, added: "There is a hint that it is has a higher propensity to infect children.

"That may perhaps explain some of the differences but we haven't established any sort of causality."

The coronavirus mutant found in Kent is 56% more infectious but isn't thought to be more deadly, according to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine study.

Researchers found "some evidence that the increase may be particularly marked in children", the Sun reports.

They predicted deaths and cases from the bug will peak in London, East and the South East of England in spring and will be followed by the rest of the country in the summer.

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They also warned another national lockdown is "unlikely" to get the infection rate, R, down unless schools and universities closed.

The government re-opened schools claiming coronavirus affected children less earlier this year.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told Times Radio: “They will definitely be back in January. We want to keep schools open.”

This comes as 34,693 more people were infected with the virus over Christmas Day.

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