Western Australia paving way in kids COVID-19 research

  • Research underway to better understand the rate and prevalence of COVID-19 in children
  • Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation funded research to identify any unrecognised community transmission of COVID-19 in asymptomatic children
  • Non-invasive testing method will use already collected blood samples from 800 de-identified children
  • Researchers at Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH) have kick-started two research projects to help better understand the rate and prevalence of COVID-19 in children.

    Two projects will test for evidence of COVID-19 in children not showing symptoms – given symptoms and disease of children tend to be milder than in adults, meaning infection can easily be missed.

    One of these research projects aims to determine the prevalence of infection of SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19 in children and the role they play in the community transmission of the disease.

    PCH infectious disease specialists will work with PathWest and Clinipath to conduct the research, with testing to take place between June and December 2020 covering the peak winter season.

    Using blood samples taken as part of routine testing, a selection of random samples will be tested to see whether antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 are present. If present, this will provide evidence that the child was previously infected with COVID-19, and data from this study will have implications for the management and delivery of paediatric health in Western Australia.

    The second research project, undertaken with Telethon Kids Institute, will screen patients ahead of their ear, nose or throat surgery at PCH over a nine-month period, with an anticipated 300 children due to be screened.

    This research will complement the McGowan Government’s DETECT schools project which is currently scanning the WA school community for possible undetected COVID-19 cases.

    As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:

    “Western Australia is once again leading the way in research into COVID-19 in kids in a non-invasive way that will help us better understand the prevalence of the disease in children and the best level of care for the future.

    “Although the COVID-19 case numbers remain very encouraging, we cannot afford to be complacent.

    “This research is another way we are able to best protect our kids, each other and the community.”

    As stated by Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation Chief Executive Officer Carrick Robinson:

    “We need to know where we are right now, to map out where we should go next. This research will give the hospital the information required to better understand COVID-19 infection for children in WA.

    “With the focus on adult illness and deaths, it is important that paediatricians continue to advocate for world-class research that helps understand the disease for children as well.

    “To do so will require the knowledge, co-operation and ongoing input of the scientific community to fill knowledge gaps. This is an important gap in our knowledge for WA children that the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation is well positioned to support.”

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