U.S. scientists are working to understand a rare, life-threatening inflammatory syndrome in children associated with exposure to the new coronavirus by quickly assembling clinical trials and patient registries.
Cases were first reported in Britain, Italy and Spain, but now doctors in the United States are seeing clusters of kids with the disorder, which can attack multiple organs, impair heart function and weaken heart arteries.
This emerging syndrome, which may occur days to weeks after a COVID-19 illness, reflects the surprising ways that this entirely new coronavirus infects and sickens its human hosts.
For most children, COVID-19 disease is mild, and children are far less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At least one child in Britain has died. No children are believed to have died so far in the United States, “but that could change,” said Dr. Sean O’Leary, a paediatric infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital Colorado who serves on the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious disease.
O’Leary said efforts are getting underway to collect information on the disorder, dubbed a “Paediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Potentially Associated with COVID-19.”
“Every academic centre I know of is looking for these cases and trying to systematically track them,” he said.
The New York Department of Health on Wednesday reported 64 cases of the new syndrome as of May 5, and is calling on hospitals to immediately report any cases to the department.
A conference call with experts over the weekend organised by Boston Children’s drew some 2,000 participants.
Researchers are focused on testing to confirm a link with COVID-19 and the collection of blood or DNA to study whether some children are genetically predisposed to develop the condition.
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