COVID-19 more severe in pediatric cancer patients, global study confirms

Mackenzie Bean - Print  | 

Globally, about one in five pediatric cancer patients who contracted COVID-19 had a severe or critical infection, according to a study published Aug. 26 in The Lancet Oncology. 

The finding is based on data from the Global Registry of COVID-19 in Childhood Cancer, which was created by Memphis, Tenn.-based St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the International Society of Paediatric Oncology.

Researchers examined the outcomes of 1,500 children treated at 131 hospitals in 45 countries. They conducted the study from April 15, 2020, to Feb. 1, 2021, before vaccines were available for older children in some parts of the world. 

Researchers found 19.9 percent of children with cancer had a severe or critical infection. Past studies show the overall prevalence of severe COVID-19 in children ranges from 1 percent to 6 percent, St. Jude said in an Aug. 27 news release.

Less than 4 percent of children died from COVID-19. While this figure is low, it's more than four times greater than mortality rates reported in published studies of general pediatric patients, researchers said.  

"The results clearly and definitively show that children with cancer fare worse with COVID-19 than children without cancer," said study author Sheena Mukkada, MD, a physician researcher in St. Jude's departments of global pediatric medicine and infectious diseases. "This global collaboration helps clinicians make evidence-based decisions about prevention and treatment, which, unfortunately, remain relevant as the pandemic continues."

To view the full study, click here.


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