Yale Researchers Think They've Found Why Kids With COVID Handle It Better Than Adults

Sep 28, 2020

Researchers from Yale think they’ve found one reason children with COVID-19 fare better than adults: the presence of some helpful molecules in their immune systems. 

Kevan Herold of Yale is a co-author on the paper. Herold did the study with his wife Betsy, who’s with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Herold said kids’ immune systems are new to the world,  thanks to molecules scientists call mediators.

“As we age, our ability to make these types of mediators declines. So it may be that what we’re actually looking at here is the effect of aging on the immune system",  he said.

The Herolds looked at both kids and adults who had been hospitalized with COVID-19. They found kids’ immune systems have higher levels of two mediators in particular that help protect them from the virus, and clear it out of their system when it turns up.

“And it suggests that there must be cells that reside most likely in the lungs in children that seem to be able to more robustly respond, early on, to the virus, compared to adults.”

The discovery may give one answer to an important question that’s puzzled scientists since the pandemic began. But it also raises a new question.

“Which cells are making these mediators? Are they the ones that are responsible for protection? We don’t directly know the answer to that.”

He said when we know that, maybe there’ll even be a way to stimulate the response to help people’s immune systems respond quicker and stronger.