Increase of Hepatitis Among Children Thought to Be Caused by Loss of Immunity Due to Lockdown

Recent hepatitis surge among children has health officials questioning what caused the outbreak, largely in children under five.

QUICK FACTS:
  • A surprisingly aggressive global increase in hepatitis cases in children has caused health officials in Britain to question the reason that kids with typically low risk are testing positive in high numbers.
  • A report by The Daily Mail indicates that some health officials credit the COVID-19 prompted lockdowns as the reason for the uptick in cases among children. 
  • Officials have theorized that a lack of exposure to typically common infections during “formative” years could be causing children to be more susceptible to bigger, and more likely deadly illnesses, like hepatitis.
  • Professor Simon Taylor-Robinson, a hepatologist from Imperial College London, said, “I think there are more cases out there,” adding, “I’d imagine there are more cases than have been reported—but they are likely to be less severe.”
  • “I think it is likely that children mixing in kindergartens and schools have lower immunity to seasonal adenoviruses than in previous years because of restrictions,” Taylor-Robinson went on to say. “This means they could be more at risk of developing hepatitis because their immune response is weaker to the virus.”
DETAILS ABOUT THE CASES THAT HAVE BEEN DETECTED:
  • Thus far, 169 cases of “acute hepatitis of unknown origin” have been found in 12 countries since last October.
  • The vast majority are cases in children age five and under, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • So far, nine cases have been found in Alabama and two in North Carolina, but experts have said that this could be the “tip of the iceberg” since symptoms are frequently missed, particularly in young children not previously thought to be at high risk.
BACKGROUND:
  • In the United Kingdom, which has seen 114 cases, three-quarters have been linked to adenoviruses, which is a range of viruses that is usually a version of what would be thought a common cold.
  • However, in some cases, when an immune system isn’t able to fight off the virus, it can develop into hepatitis.
  • Officials have reportedly ruled out the Covid vaccine as a possible cause since most of those affected were under 5, and many are not believed to have received the vaccine.