One aspect of the novel coronavirus outbreak that has troubled people around the globe is the uncertainty surrounding the entire situation. As a new virus, scientists are still trying to pin down exactly how it works and the impacts this has on the human body. When the pandemic first began, it seemed that the symptoms were relatively simple to identify but, since that time, the list of maladies caused by a COVID-19 infection make it one of the most pernicious modern diseases for the medical community.
Now comes news that a unique syndrome caused by an infection with the novel coronavirus is impacting children in the United States. Head of critical care medicine at Children’s National Hospital tells NBCNews, “All the kids have some sort of severe inflammation…I think it’s all part of some spectrum of disease that’s evolving as we learn more and more about this infection and its consequences.”
So far 85 cases of this syndrome have been recorded in the United States with the vast majority occurring in New York state. The syndrome appears to be caused when the child’s immune system goes into “overdrive” when the child is infected with COVID-19. Known as pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, the phenomenon can look like other diseases and conditions out there such as toxic shock syndrome. Symptoms associated with this include a high fever, diarrhea, and red eyes or conjunctivitis.
But what really has doctors worried is that this response by the child’s immune system seems to be linked to difficulties with the heart and pumping enough blood. Because of this, medication to raise a child’s blood pressure are necessary Dr. Audrey John, the chief of the pediatric infectious diseases unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia argues. While the direct link to COVID-19 has not yet been established, most of the doctors interviewed by NBC and other news outlets think the coincidence is suspicious enough to warrant investigation.
Part of the difficulty with all of this is that the impacts this disease has on adult populations is not yet fully understood. Doctors, tasked with understanding it all at one time, and researchers, struggling to come up with a vaccine or answer to the pandemic, are both stretched by the unique circumstances presented by the novel coronavirus outbreak. One thing is certain: Governments around the world are ready to end the lockdown that has frozen the global economy and led the millions of job losses, even if temporary.
What all of this is reminding doctors and government officials is that the lifting of lockdown procedures is going to be more complex and nuanced than previously believed. Prior to this news there were many erroneous reports that the COVID-19 pandemic was not impacting children in the same way as other cohorts. It would now seem that, as far as this headline is concerned, that piece of news would seem to be the work of fantasy and that all populations, until discovered otherwise, are at risk from this disease.