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Long-term symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection in school children: population-based cohort with 6-months follow-up. Short Report

By Thomas Radtke, Agne Ulyte, Milo Alan Puhan, Susi Kriemler

Posted 18 May 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.16.21257255

Although nobody doubts the existence of long COVID in children, it is still unclear to what extent children are affected. The Ciao Corona study is a longitudinal cohort investigating SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence and clustering of cases among around 2500 children from 55 randomly selected primary and secondary schools in the canton of Zurich in Switzerland. Between June 2020 and April 2021, we completed three testing phases where we collected venous blood for serological analysis (ABCORA 2.0 test) and asked about symptoms with online questionnaires. We compared children who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in October/November 2020 with those who tested negative. Children who were seronegative in October/November 2020 and seroconverted or were not retested by March/April 2021 were excluded from the analysis (n=256). In March-May 2021 we assessed the presence of symptoms occurring since October 2020, lasting for at least 4 weeks, and persisting for either >4 weeks or >12 weeks. Overall, 1355 of 2503 children with a serology result in October/November 2020 and follow up questionnaire in March/April 2021 were included. Among seropositive and seronegative 6-to 16-year-old children and adolescents, 9% versus 10% reported at least one symptom beyond 4 weeks, and 4% versus 2% at least one symptom beyond 12 weeks. None of the seropositive children reported hospitalization after October 2020. Seropositive children, all with a history of pauci-symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, did not report long COVID more frequently than seronegative children. This study suggests a very low prevalence of long COVID in a randomly selected population-based cohort of children followed over 6 months after serological testing.

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