Telethon kid’s institute is partnering with Perth Children’s hospital to conduct critical research into the impact of COVID-19 on children.
Although researchers around the globe have been working tirelessly to understand the disease since it appeared, there is still a great deal that scientists do not know about the virus.
Children experience much milder symptoms than adults when they contract the coronavirus, and much of the research of the disease has so far focussed on adult infections.
It has been suggested that children typically have a much lower viral load than adults with authorities saying it is safe for children to attend school as they are less likely to contract or spread the virus.
The hospital will conduct two projects, testing for evidence of COVID-19 in children that have not shown any symptoms of the disease. Researchers hope to determine the prevalence of viral infections in children and the role children may play in community transmission.
Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation Chief Executive Officer Carrick Robinson says it is important to understand the disease in children as well as adults.
“We need to know where we are right now, to map out where we should go next. This research will give the hospital the information required to better understand COVID-19 infection for children in WA.”
Perth Children’s Hospital infectious disease specialists will work with PathWest and Clinipath to conduct the research, with testing to take place between June and December 2020 covering the peak winter season.
Using blood samples taken as part of routine testing, a selection of random samples will be tested to see whether antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 are present. If present, this will provide evidence that the child was previously infected with COVID-19, and data from this study will have implications for the management and delivery of paediatric health in Western Australia.
The second research project, undertaken with Telethon Kids Institute, will screen patients ahead of their ear, nose or throat surgery at PCH over a nine-month period, with an anticipated 300 children due to be screened.
Health Minister Roger Cook says the research will be non-invasive.
“Western Australia is once again leading the way in research into COVID-19 in kids in a non-invasive way that will help us better understand the prevalence of the disease in children and the best level of care for the future.”
“Although the COVID-19 case numbers remain very encouraging, we cannot afford to be complacent.”