Children develop fewer antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, and these antibodies are “weaker” than adults. In an unexpected way, this can make the infection easier to progress. The new research is published in Nature Immunology.
Previously scientists reportedthat an overly strong immune response to coronavirus can cause severe forms of COVID-19 and even death. A weak immune response, as it turns out in a new study, helps to defeat the infection before it causes severe damage to the body.
This could potentially explain why the coronavirus infection usually “pity” children. In addition, the discovery may provide an answer to why children are less infectious with COVID-19. Authors new research suggest that they may not spread the infection for as long as adults.
Scientists point out that the peculiarities of the immune response do not make children at risk for re-infection.
“It doesn’t take a huge, over-the-top immune response to maintain protection over time.” said The New York Times Deepta Bhattacharya of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
What scientists have discovered
Scientists checked levels of antibodies against COVID-19 in 79 people of different ages and with different clinical course of COVID-19. Among the participants were 16 children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome (which is similar to Kawasaki syndrome) and 31 children without this syndrome.
The findings of the scientists are consistent with the data of previous studies: the majority of the participants had pronounced immunity to the coronavirus. But it turned out that the “set of antibodies” in adults and children is different. Children predominantly developed one type of antibodies: immunoglobulins G (IgG) to the virus spike protein. Adults had more different types of antibodies to this and other coronavirus proteins, and these proteins neutralized the virus more powerfully.
In none of the children, scientists did not find antibodies to a coronavirus protein called nucleocapsid (it is located around the genetic material of the virus). This protein is not on the surface. Scientists note that antibodies to it are produced only with a large number of viruses in the body. This finding confirms that the infection is weaker in children.