Quantifying Pediatric Cancer Risk During Coronavirus Pandemic

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer study showed 5 percent of pediatrics with COVID-19 symptoms required hospitalization
children looking thru a balcony

Although a research letter published in JAMA is limited by small numbers, the data suggest that pediatric patients with cancer may not be more vulnerable than other children to infection or morbidity resulting from SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections.

This new report published on May 13, 2020, suggests that although the asymptomatic SARS-CoV carrier rate in children in the general population is not known, initial testing of 120 asymptomatic pediatric patients with cancer revealed only a 2.5 percent rate of SARS-CoV-2 positivity. 

By comparison, they observed a 14.7 percent rate of SARS-CoV-2 positivity in their asymptomatic caregivers, which closely matches the asymptomatic carrier rate in pregnant women in New York (13.5%).

Together, these results do not support the conjecture that children are a reservoir of unrecognized SARS-CoV-2 infection, concluded these researchers.

This Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center study showed the overall morbidity of COVID-19 in pediatric patients with cancer is low with only 5 percent requiring hospitalization for symptoms of COVID-19.

And that the rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection among asymptomatic pediatric patients is very low.

Furthermore, that unrecognized SARS-CoV-2 infection in asymptomatic caregivers is a major infection control consideration.

Lastly, that consistent with the sex difference previously seen in adults with the critical disease, there is a male bias in SARS-CoV-2 infections in children, suggesting a biological basis in skewed infectivity.

Drs Boulad and Kung had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. 

These studies were supported by internal institutional funding from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Vax-Before-Cancer publishes pediatric cancer news.