Children under 16 have a better immune response to the virus

The priority for the application is the adult population because the virus has wreaked more damage with them

Almost a year after the declaration of the covid-19 disease as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, the global reality continues to be worrying; Although the scientific community already knows a lot about the causative virus - Sars-Cov-2 - humanity still remains uncertain about what will happen in the coming months.

Despite this, several of the vaccines that have been developed are pressing for many regions hard hit by the crisis such as Europe and Latin America. That is why governments are budgeting, planning and managing the acquisition of millions of doses to immunize their citizens as soon as possible.

Sputnik V, manufactured in Russia, is one of the safest according to the results of clinical trials, in fact, in countries like Argentina it is already applied under a protocol established by the authorities of that nation. It is approved for people between the ages of 18 and 60.

Despite this response from science to protect people, which encourages normalizing daily life, the drugs have only been tested or tried in people over 16 years old, because there are doubts about the effects they can have on minors.

Some countries like Chile and Spain, which advance mass immunization with the Pfizer vaccine, announced that they will not be applied to the population under 16 years of age. Últimas Noticias he interviewed doctor Daniel Rodríguez, to clarify the reason for this criterion.

He explained that this has to do with the immune system; the manifestation of the coronavirus in young people is milder than in adults, especially in the elderly. It happens very similar to a common cold or flu.

"Lymphocytes have a better response towards the virus with respect to a higher system," he said. Lymphocytes circulate in the blood and belong to the body's defense or immune system. They are the ones that produce antibodies and destroy invading viruses or bacteria.

He added that there is a priority criterion, since in young people the covid has not caused so much "havoc". Given that young people are less prone to complications, "being the population of adults and older adults the most committed, it is decided to give them priority."

"In addition, large laboratories do not have enough studies with young people, but with adults," he said.

Risks of a vaccine

The application of a vaccine in the development phase carries risks, which is precisely why the regulations require that volunteers to test them must be people with an optimal level of health, that is, healthy and of legal age.

The most common mild side effects when trying a vaccine, which has several clinical phases, are pain at the injection site, usually one of the arms, swelling in the area, tiredness, or a headache. They are basically symptoms that manifest themselves because the immune system is reacting.

In this regard, Rodríguez commented that young people have better responses to an antigen, as the immune system matures and lymphocytes differentiate.

"Certainly they do have a better affinity to fight some diseases, especially infectious ones, however, like all biological and human processes, we age, and the immune response changes," he added.

He pointed out that the immune system produces a cytokine storm and even attacks its lung parenchyma, and is one of the biggest complications of covid. This has been found mostly in adults, particularly in Europe, but not in adolescents, young people and children.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a report on the subject. It indicates that some adults get sick because their immune systems seem to overreact to the virus, causing more damage to the body. This is less likely to happen in children.

Babies, on the other hand, seem to be most at risk; his immune system is still immature. Their airways are smaller, and they can have trouble breathing if they get viral infections.

Children's version

Healthcare consortia such as Pfizer, in collaboration with Germany's Biontech, announced last October that it would test children 12 years of age and older. In December 2020, the developers of the modern vaccine were also planning trials in children ages 12 and 17.

Regarding Sputnik V, the head of the Nikolai Gamaleya Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, Alexánder Guintsburg, said that a version of this vaccine for boys and girls will be put into trial in the middle of this year.

The Gamaleya center indicated that this category will be more tenuous and will have less reactogenicity. This reduced dose is due to lower body weight; the immune system can be less developed than that of an adult person and any vaccine has different grades for adults and children.

Virus is milder. Scientists and specialists around the world have agreed that children and adolescents suffer from the coronavirus with milder symptoms than adults and death is exceptionally rare.

The Harvard University School of Medicine reiterated in one of its studies that "children, including very young ones, can develop covid-19", but they say that many of them do not have symptoms. “Those who do get sick tend to experience milder symptoms, such as a low fever, fatigue and cough. Some children have had serious complications, but this has been fewer.

This information was complemented by research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that indicated that the cumulative rate of pediatric hospitalization for COVID-19 in the United States is 8 per 100.000 inhabitants, despite the fact that this nation is one of the most affected by the pandemic.

In addition, the behavior of the virus was analyzed in 651 children held in the UK, and the risk of children requiring hospitalization for the virus was determined to be “small”.


Statistics

In the last quarter of 2020, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned that covid-19 "is taking a higher price on children and young people in the Americas" than when the health contingency began.

"More than half a million children and adolescents in our region have been infected and these numbers continue to increase," said PAHO Director Carissa Etienne.

According to data released by the Venezuelan Executive in the Patria system, of the more than 117.000 confirmed infections in the country, about 707 correspond to children between 0 and 9 years old, while about 875 are young people between 10 and 19 years old.

Venezuela is one of the countries in the region that has registered the Russian vaccine for emergency use. The Government signed with Russia the purchase of the first 10 million doses to start vaccination. l

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