Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in children - A prospective multicentre cohort study.

Background Studies based on molecular testing of oral/nasal swabs underestimate SARS-CoV-2 infection due to issues with test sensitivity and timing of testing. The objective of this study was to report the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, consistent with previous infection, and to report the symptomatology of infection in children. Design This multicentre observational cohort study, conducted between 16th April - 3rd July 2020 at 5 UK sites, aimed to recruit 900 children aged 2 to 15 years of age. Participants provided blood samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing and data were gathered regarding unwell contacts and symptoms. Results 1007 participants were enrolled, and 992 were included in the final analysis. The median age of participants was 10.1 years. There were 68 (6.9%) participants with positive SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests indicative of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. Of these, 34/68 (50%) reported no symptoms. The presence of antibodies and the mean antibody titre was not influenced by age. Following multivariate analysis 4 independent variables were identified as significantly associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. These were: known infected household contact; fatigue; gastrointestinal symptoms; and changes in sense of smell or taste. Discussion In this study children demonstrated similar antibody titres in response to SARS-CoV-2 irrespective of age. The symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children were subtle but of those reported, fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms and changes in sense of smell or taste were most strongly associated with antibody positivity. Registration This study was registered at https://www.clinicaltrials.gov (trial registration: NCT04347408) on the 15/04/2020.

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