Hepatitis cases in children: WHO examines link to coronavirus

Status: 11/05/2022 11:48

More than 300 cases of hepatitis in children have been reported worldwide, the cause of which is unknown. The World Health Organization is also investigating a possible link between liver inflammation and the corona virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is studying a link between the coronavirus and hepatitis in children. Meanwhile, 348 probable cases of the disease of unknown origin have been reported in 20 countries, the WHO said. Over 160 of them have been reported in the UK alone. There are also 70 cases from 13 countries that have not yet been finally classified.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that rarely occurs in healthy children. Recently, the number of mysterious hepatitis in children has increased all over the world. The WHO first became aware of unexplained cases of hepatitis in Scotland in early April. According to the United States, it is currently investigating more than 100 cases, in five of which the children have died. In some cases, liver transplants have been necessary.

Probably causes the so-called adenoviruses

According to the WHO, the main hypothesis for the cause of hepatitis cases remains the so-called adenoviruses. These are common viruses that usually cause only mild illness. There are more than 50 types of these viruses that are transmitted by droplet infection. Most of these pathogens cause colds, but some trigger other symptoms.

For the WHO, it is conceivable that children are now more susceptible to adenoviruses because of the corona pandemic because these pathogens were transmitted less during the pandemic. In addition, the hypothesis is investigated that dual infections with adenovirus and corona virus play a role. The WHO, on the other hand, excludes hepatitis as a side effect of Covid vaccinations, because the vast majority of young people with hepatitis are not vaccinated.

Research progresses

Over the past week there has been “significant progress” in investigating hepatitis cases and possible causes, said Philippa Easterbrook of the WHO’s Global Hepatitis Programme. “Currently, the main hypotheses remain those involving adenoviruses – although the role of Covid, either as a co-infection or as a prior infection, also still plays an important role.”

Further testing confirmed that around 70% of hepatitis cases were positive for adenoviruses, with subtype 41 – usually associated with gastrointestinal inflammation – being the predominant subtype. Tests also showed around 18% of cases tested positive for Covid-19.

With the help of new data from Britain, the researchers now want to clarify “whether Adeno is just an accidentally discovered infection or whether there is a causal link,” Easterbrook said. Previous investigations have shown none of the typical features one would expect in hepatitis caused by adenoviruses.

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