Less mixing between children due to the lockdowns could have caused a drop in immunity to infections such as Strep A, a leading expert has suggested. Sky News has more.
Six children have died in the U.K. after being found to have the bacterial infection and there have been more cases than normal this year.
Most Strep A cases are relatively mild and cause scarlet fever with symptoms such as a sore throat and a rash – which can be routinely treated with antibiotics.
However, the bacteria can sometimes get into the bloodstream or other parts of the body and become ‘invasive’ and life threatening.
Microbiologist Dr. Simon Clarke, from the University of Reading, said he wasn’t aware of any evidence of a new strain but suggested the Covid pandemic [i.e., the lockdowns] might have contributed to an increase in cases.
“It strikes me that as we are seeing with flu at the moment, lack of mixing in kids may have caused a drop in population-wide immunity that could increase transmission, particularly in school age children,” said Dr. Clarke.
He said the cases didn’t appear to be linked – they are not clustered around any one area – but he believes “further cases over the coming weeks and months” are likely.
The U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed on Friday that invasive Strep A cases (known as iGAS) have increased this year.
The rate for this year is 2.3 cases per 100,000 children aged one to four, compared with an average of 0.5 in the pre-pandemic seasons (2017 to 2019).
Among five to nine-year-olds it’s 1.1 cases per 100,000 children, compared with the pre-pandemic average of 0.3.
Worth reading in full.
Ironic that Dr. Simon Clarke, a Tory councillor as well as a microbiologist, should be saying this, given that he was a lockdown zealot. I wonder if he’s reconsidering his position? I daresay he will argue the pandemic would have meant less mixing regardless of what NPIs were put in place. Hmmm.