However, in other countries, cases of children dying from coronavirus disease have been reported. Though the rate is low, it may provide an insight into why some children are vulnerable, and others are spared. Immune preparedness of children
During the first months of life, maternal antibodies help protect children from pathogens that were previously contracted. Although sanitation practices and the development of vaccines have been established to protect children from deadly infections, all microorganisms are new to the child.
During the first year of life, the diseases the child encounter serve to build the pool of memory T and B cells to avoid reinfection. After, the children's immune systems are prepared to fight off pathogens as they grow up, which may be lacking in people who are 70 years old and above. Aging may take a toll on the immune system, working as less efficiently as before.
While innate immunity and the potent T cells play significant roles in warding off infections, antibodies may help fight the pathogen. For instance, past outbreaks such as the SARS in 2002, Ebola in 2014, and the H1N1 in 2009, convalescent plasma containing antibodies from recovered patients was utilized to treat patients at the early stage of the illness.
Children have undergone immune preparedness, which played a pivotal role in protecting the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2. First, children have natural antibodies that stave off the virus, even if these antibodies were formed in response to other infections.
Next, children can rapidly produce natural antibodies with broad reactivity, and as a novel pathogen challenges the immune system, immune cells can provide a raid reaction, which allows for the secretion of antibodies. In infants and children, memory B cells or MBCs are highly adaptable to new antigens. In contrast, in older adults, the MBCs can recognize their targets but are incapable of adapting to new antigens.
To test their theory, the researchers have started a prospective study. The preliminary results of the study suggest that in children, an early polyclonal B cell response help produce a substantial number of plasmablasts, which are of IgM isotype.
"With aging, malnutrition, immunosuppression, and co-morbid states, our immune system loses the ability to adapt to novelty. Although vaccines are the way forward, in emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the investigation and use of immune tools that nature has endowed to children might improve management outcomes," the researchers wrote in the paper. Source: Verity, R., Okell, L, Dorigatti, I. et al. (2020). Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease 2019: a model-based analysis. The Lancet. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30243-7/fulltext Journal reference: Carsetti, R., Quintarelli, C., Quinti, I., Mortari, E. et al. (2020). The immune system of children: the key to understanding SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility?. The Lancet. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4642(20)30135-8/fulltext#%20
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