More than 28,000 people have now caught the virus across the planet, with populations in 28 different countries now affected. Almost 600 people have now lost their lives from the outbreak but one group of people seem to be less susceptible to contracting the virus.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that no person younger than 15 had contracted the virus, as of January 22.
Since then, a few children have caught the virus, of which one was a nine-month-old girl in Beijing, another in Shenzhen and one in Germany.
Chinese authorities also reported that a baby was born with coronavirus on Monday, February 3, whose mother was a carrier.
But four cases of infant infections in more than 28,000 cases overall shows that children seem to less susceptible to the coronavirus.
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Children seem less susceptible
The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine said: “Children might be less likely to become infected or, if infected, may show milder symptoms”.
As for why, no one really knows.
Richard Martinello, an associate professor of infectious disease at the Yale School of Medicine, told Business Insider: “From everything that we’ve seen, and for reasons that are unclear to us, it does seem that this is primarily impacting adults.
“Some of the reports that have come out so far from China have been from adult hospitals and not paediatric hospitals, so it could just be that we’re not seeing that data yet.”
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However, the discovery that children are less susceptible to the virus is good for the overall population.
Children are less likely to cover their mouths when they cough nor thoroughly wash their hands – two behaviours which contribute to the spread of germs.
Aaron Milstone, an epidemiologist and professor of paediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, said: “If we can protect kids – one, it’s good for them, but two, it’s good for the population.
“If it does penetrate the paediatric population, that might amplify the outbreak.”
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What is coronavirus?
A previous study from Chinese health officials found the average age of the patients who contracted coronavirus is 55, and half of the people studied were already were suffering from a pre-existing chronic disease.
Perhaps the most surprising find however is that the virus seems to infect more males than females.
The research points out that 68 percent of people infected by the virus were males, with the researchers struggling to understand why.
However, they do theorise: “The reduced susceptibility of females to viral infections could be attributed to the protection from X chromosome and sex hormones, which play an important role in innate and adaptive immunity.”