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Is the new UK COVID-19 variant worse for kids?

Scientists reportedly said the new UK strain of COVID-19 might have a worse impact on children than the previous one.

A teddy bear hangs on a fence outside a house in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
A teddy bear hangs on a fence outside a house in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
Mark Baker, Associated Press

Scientists recently hinted that the new mutation of COVID-19 seen in the United Kingdom might infect children more than earlier strains.

What’s happening:

Scientists from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group told reporters this week that children may be more susceptible to the new COVID-19 strain than they were to the original COVID-19 strain, the New York Post reports.

  • “There is a hint that it is has a higher propensity to infect children,” said NERVTAG member Neil Ferguson, a professor from Imperial College London, according to The Independent.

Wendy Barclay, a NERVTAG professor and a specialist in virology, told reporters the new mutations have a different way of entering human cells, which means “children are, perhaps, equally susceptible to this virus as adults.”

  • “We’re not saying that this is a virus which specifically targets children,” she said. But, she added, it puts adults and children on the same plane as far as being infected, according to the New York Post.

Is the UK variant in the U.S.?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a release Tuesday that the new COVID-19 variant may already be in the U.S., prompting experts to worry about whether the COVID-19 vaccine will work as effectively against the new mutation, as I wrote about for the Deseret News.

  • “Ongoing travel between the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the high prevalence of this variant among current UK infections, increase the likelihood of importation,” the CDC said in a statement. “Given the small fraction of U.S. infections that have been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without having been detected.”