New Long Covid Report Underestimates Impact on Children, Leaves them Behind

Pediatric Long Covid advocacy organization voices grave concerns 

Long Covid Families, the only US-based advocacy organization focused solely on the needs of children and families with Long Covid, voiced grave concerns over how data on children is represented and described in a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. 

This new NASEM report, Long Term Health Effects of COVID-19, will have far-reaching implications. Since the onset of 2019, many individuals with Covid – including children and adolescents – have continued to experience lingering symptoms for months or even years following infection. These symptoms can affect whether children can get out of bed, go to school, learn, and play. A State-of-Art Review published in Pediatrics estimates that 5.8 million children are affected by Long Covid. Long Covid can happen to any child, even if they had mild or no symptoms during their Covid infection. Long Covid affects what a child is able to do during a day, like how they play or if they are able to go to school. 

The report uses adultist language when it comes to children including differential language about the impact on children. The report even contradicts itself: first saying the trajectory for children and adolescents with Long Covid is better than for adults, and following that up with more research is needed to understand Long Covid in children.

“Indeed, kids are not little adults. Their immune systems, bodies, and brains are in dynamic periods of development. Research tells us that Long Covid presents differently in kids and urgently needs to be studied, understood, and ultimately, treated. Children deserve better from the National Academies. The American public has every right to expect more and better from one of our nation’s most esteemed Scientific institutions,” continued Carmilani.

Carmilani is on the Coordinating Committee of the NIH-funded RECOVER pediatric studies of Long Covid. She noted the significant underestimation in the report on the burden of Long Covid among children. “This condition is by no means rare among children,” noted Carmilani. “This report does a grave disservice making statements about trajectory or recovery for kids when we don’t know yet. Long Covid Families is very concerned about the potential impact of this report on the children and families who need care and support now – and the millions more that we anticipate unless more is done to mitigate the ongoing spread and impact of Covid-19.”

In advance of today’s webinar we want to call to attention the implications to the pediatric population.