Nav: Home

New article in Pediatric Research: A roadmap for critical COVID-19 research in children

May 18, 2020

Rockville, MD, May 18, 2020 - Increasing reports of severe COVID-19 illness in children - coupled with the fact that little is known about how and why the disease may behave differently in this younger population - demand that a set of critical steps be taken now to ensure children get the attention they need, according to an article just published in Pediatric Research.

The article, authored by research experts from I-ACT for Children and other leading pediatric researchers, outlines a roadmap for better understanding the disease in children and ensuring that potential treatments and vaccines are developed for children with the same level of urgency given to adults.

"Although the volume and severity of COVID-19 illness in adults has been greater, we cannot afford scientific unknowns for children, especially with mounting reports of severe illness in children.," said Gary Noel, M.D., the study's lead author and I-ACT for Children's Chief Medical Officer. "Studying the infection in children now could lead to valuable information that helps us successfully treat COVID-19 and prevent its further spread."

In early April, the CDC calculated that in the United States, about 1.7% (2,572 of 149,082 for which age was reported) of COVID-19 cases had occurred in children (< 18 years). Of those, 5.7 percent were hospitalized, compared with 10 percent of adults at that time. COVID-19 has led to serious illness and death in children ranging from newborns and young infants to those with underlying medical conditions.

The authors outline five key areas of pediatric research that require urgent action:
    1. Understanding how COVID-19 infection develops and progresses in children and the impact of a mother's infection during pregnancy on her newborn.

    The early suggestion that children are at lower risk of severe disease from COVID-19 infection remains unexplained and has not been confirmed; research aimed at defining the pathophysiology and course of the disease in children is essential for developing the best treatment and prevention strategies to address children's medical needs. This should receive the highest priority in the clinical research community.

    2. Ensuring the availability of widespread, rapid point-of-care diagnostic testing to assess prevalence, inform prevention strategies.

    Identifying infected children more extensively and more rapidly can help define the role children may be playing in spreading the infection, as well as help researchers understand the course of the disease in these children. The authors suggest that limited availability of testing has likely resulted in a significant underestimation of the number of infected children.

    3. Conducting widespread antibody testing of children as a marker for susceptibility.

    Defining the role specific antibodies play in determining immunity to COVID-19 infection is needed not only to advance vaccine strategies, but also to better understand the extent to which infants and children have responded to these infections, and therefore may be protected from new infections.

    4. Establishing a dedicated framework for testing the safety and efficacy of new COVID-19 treatments in children.

    As treatments are being developed and tested in adults, including pediatricians in that study planning can help ensure the collection of data that can be used to inform and accelerate pediatric studies, through use of extrapolation and other innovative research methods. Studies of investigational agents in children should begin as soon as deemed ethically appropriate based on risk and benefit assessment.

    5. Evaluating vaccines and other preventive measures for children.
As with new treatments, early preparation for inclusion of children in trials of new vaccines and other preventive agents is important - and these trials should not be delayed once careful risk-benefit assessment justifies such inclusion. It is already clear that the risk for serious disease exists, and that the family impact of infection/disease in children can be significant.

"While it appears so far that children represent a small proportion of the total population with serious COVID-19 disease, this should not mean that we are left without the information we need to make well-informed decisions about using new therapies in children who are critically ill," said Edward Connor, M.D., M.B.E., Founder and Chairman of I-ACT for Children and the article's senior author. "We must collaborate to ensure pediatric needs aren't pushed to the edge of the radar."

Drug development in pediatrics has been slow and inefficient for decades. Half the medicines prescribed for children have never been proven effective for them. I-ACT for Children was created to level the playing field by championing and participating in the research needed to ensure children have the same access as adults to effective medicines.

I-ACT for Children has created a public-private pediatric research network that is specifically designed to advance product development in children. It collaborates with similar organizations in Europe, Canada and Japan to provide a global research framework.
-end-
About the Pediatric Research article

The article, "Key Clinical Research Priorities for the Pediatric Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic," was co-authored by Jonathan Davis, M.D., Chief of the Division of Newborn Medicine at Tufts Medical Center-Floating Hospital for Children and a Professor of Medicine at Tufts University Medical School; Octavio Ramilo, M.D., the Henry G. Cramblett Chair in Infectious Diseases and Professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio; and John Bradley, M.D., Medical Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and a Distinguished Professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

About I-ACT for Children

I-ACT for Children is a 501(c)3 that serves as a neutral and independent voice on behalf of children and is dedicated to advancing new pediatric medicines and devices needed now and in the future. It has built a network of pediatric trial sites designed to accelerate and enhance the quality of pediatric clinical trials. The organization engages stakeholders from all pediatric research sectors - from regulators, to academia, to industry, to patients - to advance innovative strategies that benefit the pediatric research environment writ large.

To learn more about I-ACT for Children, visit http://www.iactc.org.

I-ACT for Children

Related Vaccines Articles:

Better vaccines are in our blood
Red blood cells don't just shuttle oxygen from our lungs to our organs: they also help the body fight off infections by capturing pathogens in the blood and presenting them to immune cells in the spleen.
Challenges in evaluating SARS-CoV-2 vaccines
With more than 140 SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in development, the race is on for a successful candidate to help prevent COVID-19.
Designing vaccines from artificial proteins
EPFL scientists have developed a new computational approach to create artificial proteins, which showed promising results in vivo as functional vaccines.
Misinformation on vaccines readily available online
Parents researching childhood vaccinations online are likely to encounter significant levels of negative information, researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington, have found.
Battle with the cancer: New avenues from childhood vaccines
A new research from the University of Helsinki showed for the first time how the pre-immunization acquired through common childhood vaccines can be used to enhance therapeutic cancer treatment.
Personalized cancer vaccines
The only therapeutic cancer vaccine available on the market has so far showed very limited efficacy in clinical trials.
Doubts raised about effectiveness of HPV vaccines
A new analysis of the clinical trials of HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancer raises doubts about the vaccines' effectiveness.
Egg-based flu vaccines: Not all they're cracked up to be?
Flu season is underway in the Northern Hemisphere, sickening millions of people and in rare cases, causing hospitalization or death.
You're probably not allergic to vaccines
Five facts about allergies to vaccines, pulled together by two McMaster University physicians.
Micromotors deliver oral vaccines
Vaccines have saved millions of lives, but nobody likes getting a shot.
More Vaccines News and Vaccines Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.