Data from MSK Kids pediatric program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC suggest that pediatric patients with cancer may have risk for infection from SARS-CoV-2 that is similar to the risk for other children in the general population.1
However, infection among asymptomatic pediatric patient caregivers may be an important factor for infection control.
Researchers screened 335 pediatric patients with cancer and their caregivers starting in mid-March 2020. The rate of positivity for COVID-19 was 11.2%. Three cohorts of individuals were also assessed.
First, among patients exposed to COVID-19 (screen-positive patients) or those with symptoms, the rate of positivity was 29.3%. In comparison, among those patients who were asymptomatic with no known exposure, the rate of SARS-CoV-2 positivity was only 2.5%.
Finally, testing among caregivers showed that 17.6% were positive for SARS-CoV-2. Among those caregivers that were asymptomatic and unexposed, the positivity rate was 14.7%.
“This report suggests that pediatric patients with cancer may not be more vulnerable than other children to infection or morbidity resulting from SARS-CoV-2,” the researchers wrote. “Our results do not support the conjecture that children are a reservoir of unrecognized SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
Boulad F, Kamboj M, Bouvier N, et al. COVID-19 in children with cancer in New York City [published online May 13, 2020]. JAMA Oncol. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.2028