Objectives: The extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst children and their role in transmission remains unclear. Therefore, we aimed to estimate the SARS-CoV-2 antibody seroprevalence amongst children who presented to our hospital for non-COVID-19-related morbidity during the first and second epidemic wave in 2020 and compared these to the general Dutch paediatric population.
Methods: We collected residual plasma samples from all paediatric patients (1 month-17 years of age) visiting our clinic or emergency room, who had blood drawing for various medical reasons. Samples were analysed for the presence of total antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 by Wantai ELISA. The seroprevalence in two separate periods (July-Sep 2020, and Oct-Dec 2020) was compared to regional and national data (PIENTER-Corona study, September 2020), and associations with co-morbidities were assessed.
Results: A total of 209 samples in period 1 and 240 samples in period 2 were collected (median age 7.1 years, IQR 1.5–13.5). SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected in 4.1% and 13.8%, respectively (p< 0.001). Seroprevalence was higher compared to national paediatric data, but did not differ with regional estimates. Most children with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were seen in the outpatient clinic for general paediatric problems with no differences in medical reasons for presentation between the two periods.
Conclusions: These data confirm a rapid three-fold increase in SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in paediatric patients in the second half of 2020 with a trend towards a higher seroprevalence compared to randomly-selected children in a nationwide study. Underlying morbidity in children might not play an important role in acquiring SARS-CoV-2 infection.
This research was partially funded by the Franciscus Gasthuis & Vlietland Hospital, Rotterdam, the Netherlands and did not receive any additional funding from agencies in the public, commercial, or not-forprofit sectors. The national cohort (PIENTER-Corona) was funded by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS), the Netherlands.
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