SARS-CoV-2 Epidemiology And Response in Children (SEARCh) Project

Challenge

Although children are usually spared the worst of COVID-19 disease, they suffer substantial indirect harms as a result of the pandemic, including missed immunizations, school and day care closures, and loss of family income. Policies for resumption of pre-pandemic activities for U.S. children are being developed with incomplete data, particularly with respect to infection of very young children and their ability to transmit within households.

Approach

To address these issues, the Center for Immunization Research (CIR) has launched the SEARCh (SARS-CoV-2 Epidemiology And Response in Children) Project. SEARCh will focus specifically on children ages 0-5 years, for 3 reasons: 1) other studies will study household transmission in school-aged children, but will generate little data from this younger age group 2) home-based child care settings are more likely than schools to remain open or to reopen during the pandemic and could potentially be a source of infection for households with young children 3) rates of hospitalization have been reported to be highest among children under 2 years of age.

The objectives of the study include: 1) estimating the cumulative incidence of infection with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), including both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections; 2) characterizing immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection; 3) characterize the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection; 4) identifying risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection; and 5) assessing household transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 among children aged <5 years and their household members.

This CDC-funded study is being led by Dr. Ruth Karron at the CIR. IVAC collaborators include Dr. Maria Knoll, Maria Garcia Quesada, and Jingyi Wu.