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Prepare to deal with COVID complications in kids, warn experts

Medical experts are seeking an extreme state of readiness to deal with severe post-covid complications in children in the coming months as they are likely to emerge as among the largest population group without any vaccine protection and are also going unreported.

There is no conclusive evidence to show that the disease may take a severe form in kids, but experts anticipate severe post-covid complications for them and also warn against leaving anything to chance given the possibility of the virus mutating further.

“In the coming days, we might see a lot of cases of MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children) disease, which happens one or two months after the disease. Catching it early is important when the child will have high fever and rash for five days with irritability and eye and mouth lesions. After that, it will progress to cardiac issues where the limbs will turn cold because of poor circulation from the heart and the blood vessels to the heart get affected leading to lifelong complications,” said Arunkumar, consultant paediatrician at Baby Hospital, Erode, Tamil Nadu.

The treatment for the disease is intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), production of which has to be ramped up now as more such cases are likely to be seen in the coming days, Arunkumar said.

“In the last one week, I have seen three cases where the child had severe post-covid complications that required them to be admitted in the paediatric intensive care unit,” said Jitendra Oswal, deputy medical director and professor of paediatrics at Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College, Pune. Oswal said he expects more such cases to be reported in the next one or two months.

Such instances are extremely rare, paediatricians said. However, with more than 300,000 new covid-19 cases being reported regularly over the past one-and-a-half months, such cases of children with near-fatal covid-19 complications such as cardiac could increase, experts said.

“If we did a seroprevalence survey among children in India in another two months, I believe 70-80% of them will have antibodies against the virus because when they had covid-19, they were asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and not tested with RT-PCR,” Arunkumar said.

The potential of high seroprevalence among children could significantly reduce the chances of a mutant variant that might disproportionately affect children as experts say reinfection is less likely in people who have had covid-19 despite anecdotal evidence.

“Nobody knows what will happen in the future because of the way the virus is mutating but whether it affects children or adults, we should be well prepared. We should be a little extra prepared for children,” said Dr Dhiren Gupta of Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi. Live Mint