Although COVID-19 continues to pose much less risk to children than to adults, reports in March that not a single child had died from the disease were apparently too good to be true.
Earlier this month, government officials in New York State became aware of about 100 children who had come down with a serious condition called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), likely due to earlier coronavirus infections.
“The condition, called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, has been reported in about 100 children in New York State, including three who died, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said this week,” the New York Times reported on May 13. “Cases have been reported in other states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and California, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it will soon issue an alert asking doctors to report cases of children with symptoms of the syndrome.”
In the past ten days, two dozen children with the syndrome were admitted to Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.
“On May 13, we had five [cases]. Yesterday, we had 23. Now we have 28,” a spokesperson for Children’s tells National Review. “Most have tested positive for COVID-19 or COVID-19 antibodies, and some tests are pending.” The spokesperson adds that the hospital had seen no children admitted this year for the condition before those initial five cases.
The Centers for Disease Control describes MIS-C as follows:
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. We do not yet know what causes MIS-C. However, we know that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19. MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children who were diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care.
Although the percentage of children who develop the syndrome after a coronavirus infection is likely low, the precise figure remains unknown, because the SARS-CoV-2 virus is so new. “Is it hundreds of thousands or millions of children that have had the virus and we’re seeing, you know, maybe a hundred or 200 of these cases? Or have only thousands of kids had the virus, and we’re seeing hundreds of cases? That would be deeply concerning if the incidence was that high,” former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Face the Nation on May 17.
“This was first detected by the British [on] April 26. The Italians have reported on a cluster. And then New York City doctors and health officials were the first to report on a cluster here in the United States,” Gottlieb added. “There was a study in Science Magazine about two weeks ago that said that children are probably a third as likely to get infected with coronavirus as adults. So that means that kids are getting infected, but probably at a much lower rate than adults. But they’re still getting infected and if you figure maybe upwards of 20 million people in the U.S. have had the infection at this point — and that’s possible — that means a lot of kids might have had it as well.”