Specialists from St. Jude in the United States collected data from the Global Registry of Children with Cancer and COVID-19. Scientists analyzed medical records of 1.5 thousand children under 19 years old with various cancers infected with coronavirus. They were treated in 131 hospitals in 45 countries of the world.
Most often, children with acute lymphoblastic lymphomas and leukemias were infected with COVID-19 – they accounted for half of the infections. Hospitalization was required for 65% of patients, 20% had a severe infection, and 17% needed treatment in an intensive care unit. Risk factors for a severe course of the disease were intensive cancer treatment, a low number of immune cells in the blood,
The results also showed that children with cancer are at a significant risk of dying from COVID-19 compared with healthy peers – an average of 4% versus 0.01-0.7%.
The study authors noted that the rates of infection severity and mortality from COVID-19 in children with cancer varied significantly depending on the economic situation of the country. For example, in low- and middle-income countries, the risk of severe disease in such patients was almost six times higher than in children with cancer in rich countries.
Unlike adult patients, children with cancer and COVID-19 did not have any relationship between gender and the severity of the disease and mortality – the risks were the same in boys and girls.
The study also showed that the coronavirus has dealt a serious blow to the planned treatment of children: in 56% of children, therapy was adjusted due to infection, and in another 45% of children, chemotherapy was canceled during the treatment of the infection.
Scientists said that the analysis included data from April 2020 to February 2021, during this period, vaccination of children against COVID-19 has not been approved anywhere. In addition, the study was conducted before the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, and the situation with the incidence of such children could change under the influence of these factors.