More coronavirus questions from children
A few weeks ago, I did a segment answering questions from children about the coronavirus. Since then, more questions have come in. Let me try to pass the test with some helpful answers to questions and concerns from children.
“Why don’t we have a pill or medicine to treat the coronavirus like we do for other illnesses?” Good question. We know that there are a number of different types of coronavirus, but the one we are dealing with called COVID-19 is brand new. This means no treatment exists – at least not yet. Be reassured that every day the doctors, nurses, and scientists are trying hard to find new medicines to help us get rid of the virus if we get infected. There are some that may have potential that we are already learning more and more about through ongoing clinical trials. There is also a lot of work going on in this country and around the world to create a new vaccine that will prevent this virus from causing illness if it gets into the body. As of this month no approved vaccine exists, although again, experimental trials are ongoing.
“Why do children not seem to get as sick as grownups?” This is another great question, and the truth is, we still are not sure. One theory that seems to be gaining strength is that the immune system that fights infections in children is either stronger than that of an adult or doesn’t react the same way that an adult’s does. This makes the illness less severe in children, although it can also be less severe in many adults, too.
“If the virus infects someone, can it come back and infect that person again?” When you recover from a virus, it is believed that you are usually protected from it at least for months to a few years. Right now, no one knows whether that protection can occur and for how long after an initial exposure to the coronavirus, but it is hoped that is the case. The good news is that if the virus were to come back, by the time it does, we will hopefully have either a medicine to treat it or a vaccine to boost our immunity against it. This would prevent those previously infected and those never infected from getting this virus ever again.
Hopefully, sharing the answers to questions like these will help not just you, but everyone in your family to stay healthy, so we can all work together to make the coronavirus disappear.
Lewis First, MD, is chief of pediatrics at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and NBC5.