Prior COVID-19 or MIS-C Doesn’t Protect Children From Omicron, Study Finds

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Research based on the Boston Children’s Hospital-led Overcoming COVID-19 National Study and the hospital’s Taking On COVID-19 Together Group provides evidence that children previously infected with COVID-19 (or the inflammatory disease MIS- C) were ill are not protected against the newer omicron variant.

However, vaccinations offer protection, according to the study. The results, published in nature communication on May 27 parallel similar findings in adults.

“I hear parents say, ‘Oh, my kid had COVID last year,'” says Adrienne Randolph, MD, MSc, of Boston Children’s Hospital, which launched 2020 Overcoming COVID-19. Randolph was senior author of the current study with Surender Khurana, Ph.D., of the Food and Drug Administration, Division of Viral Products, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “But we found that antibodies produced by previous infections in children do not neutralize omicron, meaning unvaccinated children remain susceptible to omicron.”

Researchers obtained blood samples from 62 children and adolescents hospitalized with severe COVID-19, 65 children and adolescents hospitalized with MIS-C, and 50 outpatients who had recovered from mild COVID-19 . All samples were taken in 2020 and early 2021 before the Omicron variant emerged.

In the lab, they exposed the samples to a pseudovirus (derived from SARS-CoV-2 but stripped of its virulence) and measured how well antibodies in the samples were able to neutralize five different SARS-CoV-2 variants: alpha , beta, gamma, delta and omicron.

Overall, children and adolescents showed some loss of antibody cross-neutralization against all five variants, but the loss was most pronounced with omicron.

“Omicron is very different from previous variants, with many mutations on the spike protein, and this work confirms that it is able to evade the antibody response,” says Randolph. “Unvaccinated children remain vulnerable.”

In contrast, children who received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine showed higher neutralizing antibody titers against the five variants, including Omicron.

Randolph hopes this data will encourage parents to vaccinate their children and adolescents.

COVID vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 reduced Omicron hospitalizations by 68%

More information:
Juanjie Tang et al., Cross-reactive immunity to SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant is low in pediatric patients with prior COVID-19 or MIS-C, nature communication (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-30649-1

Provided by Boston Children’s Hospital

Citation: Previous COVID-19 or MIS-C Does Not Protect Children from Omicron, Study Results (2022 May 27) retrieved May 27, 2022 from previous -covid-mis -c -kids-omicron.html

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