Virological characteristics of hospitalized children with SARS-CoV-2 infection

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In children with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, virological characteristics and correlation with disease severity have not been extensively studied. The primary objective in this study is to determine the correlation between SARS-CoV-2 viral load (VL) in infected children with age, disease severity, and underlying comorbidities. METHODS: Children <21 years, screened for SARS-CoV-2 at the time of hospitalization, who tested positive by polymerase chain reaction were included in this study. VL at different sites was determined and compared between groups. RESULTS: Of the 102 children included in this study, 44% of the cohort had asymptomatic infection, and children with >1 comorbidity were the most at risk for severe disease. VL in children with symptomatic infection was significantly higher than in children with asymptomatic infection (3.0 × 105 vs 7.2 × 103 copies per mL; P = .001). VL in the respiratory tract was significantly higher in children ,1 year, compared with older children (3.3 × 107 vs 1.3 × 104 copies per mL respectively; P < .0001), despite most infants presenting with milder illness. Besides the respiratory tract, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was also detectable in samples from the gastrointestinal tract (saliva and rectum) and blood. In 13 children for whom data on duration of polymerase chain reaction positivity was available, 12 of 13 tested positive 2 weeks after initial diagnosis, and 6 of 13 continued to test positive 4 weeks after initial diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS: In hospitalized children with SARS-CoV-2, those with .1 comorbid condition experienced severe disease. SARS-CoV-2 VL in the respiratory tract is significantly higher in children with symptomatic disease and children ,1 year of age.
  • Published In

  • Pediatrics  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Pinninti SG; Pati S; Poole C; Latting M; Seleme MC; Yarbrough A; Arora N; Britt WJ; Boppana S
  • Volume

  • 147
  • Issue

  • 5