Newborn baby with highest viral load ever recorded leaves doctors puzzled

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

In what seems to be an anomaly, a newborn baby at the Children’s National Hospital of Columbia was found to have a viral load that was 51,418 times the median of other pediatric patients. Unlike the majority of infected kids who show little to no symptoms, this baby was incredibly sick.

When doctors sequenced the virus in the baby, they discovered a variant they had never seen before. The variant had a mutation called N679S, which may currently be circulating in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said the viral load “could be because of N679S, or simply because it is a [newborn] with an immature immune system, permitting the virus to replicate out of control.”

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New Stage of The Pandemic

There’s currently no evidence that the variant with N679S, or others from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, are more dangerous to children.

However, health officials in the UK have noticed an unusual surge in infections among children ages 6 to 9. In Italy, officials have also seen a spike in cases in the northern town of Corzano among those in elementary school and even younger.

On Feb. 9, Israel also reported “a sharp rise in covid-19 infections among young people, with more than 50,000 children and teens testing positive in January — more than Israel saw in any month during the first and second waves.”

In the United States, the biggest surges happened mid-November, when cases increased at a rate of 100,000 to 200,000 each week.

No one knows whether the newborn baby, who has since recovered, represents a chance case, a sign of things to come, or worrisome changes already in motion as new variants race across the globe.

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