Hundreds of experts gathered in huge numbers at the World Hepatitis Summit. One crucial topic dominated the discussion: the major outbreak of hepatitis in children, which spread like fire across 34 countries.
Dr. Philippa Easterbrook quoted that the cases labeled as serious are majorly seen in children and stated that the cause of the outbreak has to be seen with utmost priority. The most extreme side effects of hepatitis are that it can cause the liver to stop working approximately 240 cases of the outbreak have been reported from the UK and out of it 11 children have been needed to transplant the liver.
As a matter of fact, this subject has divided the scientific world. Developments regarding the same came from research by Israeli scientists, who pointed out that the cause of the outbreak can be straight pointed out to Covid – 19.
Five children with the condition, which can lead to dangerous inflammation of their livers, were examined by doctors. They noticed that all of them had contracted Covid in the past year. They suggested that liver inflammation could be an extreme side effect of the immune system’s response to the virus.
Renowned doctors shared the finding for the disease as “long Covid liver”. Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, an epidemiologist from the Queen Mary University of London shared her confidence in the findings on social media and accused many who dismiss the possibility that Covid does not affect children. But, many respected health experts have angrily disputed the claims.
Professor Alasdair Munro of University Hospital Southampton is an expert on pediatric infectious disease. He said the study provided ‘almost nothing useful information’ and provided evidence that these cases are related to Covid.
While a respected infectious disease expert from the University of Oxford said that naming the disease as “long Covid liver” should be reconsidered.
It is believed that the adenovirus, a severe strain of common childhood infection, is at fault. In fact, three-quarters of British children have tested positive for this variant.
The infection is common in children, but most cases are minor. It can cause a runny nose, cough, and sometimes pneumonia. Experts believe that children have a severe reaction because they were not exposed to adenoviruses in the Covid lockdowns. Parents may be concerned by the new claims.
The Israeli research seems convincing at first glance. The Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition published a report that details five cases: two children aged three and one-year-old, who required liver transplants. Two other children, aged eight and thirteen, were also hospitalized but made full recovery. The five patients were infected by Covid within four months of their hepatitis diagnosis.
The authors’ findings indicate that a Covid infection may have caused the immune system to malfunction and begin attacking the liver. This happens with other viral infections and is called post-viral liver disease, which is a recognized condition in children.
Dr. Gurdasani is a strong supporter of the long Covid liver theory. He also points out that the UK and the US have the highest number of cases of hepatitis. Both countries had high rates of infection in children, which was not the case in many other countries that enforce strict Covid safety measures in schools. Dr. Gurdasani states that the UK is an exceptional country in how it attempted to protect children from the virus. “We didn’t make wearing masks compulsory like other countries, and we didn’t ventilate schools. It’s possible that these decisions are having an impact on our lives.
This study also doubts the possibility of another cause. Adenovirus was not detected in any of the patients. This is not the first study of its type to reach this conclusion. Doctors in Alabama published research at the end of April confirming the absence of the virus among nine children who had severe hepatitis and required a transplant.
Many scientists have also pointed out that adenovirus is not linked to hepatitis. In fact, there has been no case of adenovirus triggering it reported in the medical literature. Dr. Gurdasani says that the argument that adenovirus causes hepatitis is becoming weaker. It doesn’t cause liver disease, and multiple studies have not shown it in these children’s livers.
Many pointed out that there are many problems with the study conducted by Israeli researchers because Israel recorded only 12 cases. So the study is conducted on a few patients. Also, the researchers did not explain why these patients were selected and on what basis they were selected and they also don’t have data related to whether the patients had Covid prior to the disease or not.
Professor Munro points out that Covid infection is common and not surprising since it has been so widespread and the time between the child getting the virus and then developing hepatitis in the children is so variable, it is difficult to prove that either one is the cause. This doesn’t mean that Covid and Hepatitis don’t exist, but the study does not provide any evidence to support this.
A virologist from the University of Nottingham also agreed it will be too early to directly jump to conclusions. He also clarified that five cases are not at all enough to prove anything.
Experts agree that it is urgent to find the cause of the disease. This will allow doctors to decide what treatment they should give. Children with hepatitis in the UK are treated with the antiviral drug Cidofovir. Other countries like Israel and Austria are using steroids to treat hepatitis patients. This can help with a dysfunctional immune system that could be affected by Covid.
Dr. Gurdasani warned that if the theory of adenovirus is proved wrong then it will be noted that patients had been receiving wrong treatment for months and the UK officials have to focus strongly on the theory connected to Covid if they want to protect children.
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