Review Article

COVID-19 and Treatment and Immunization of Children—The Time to Redefine Pediatric Age Groups is Here

Klaus Rose, Jane M. Grant-Kels, Earl B. Ettienne, Oishi Tanjinatus, Pasquale Striano, and David Neubauer

Abstract

Children are infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as often as adults, but with fewer symptoms. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) in children (MIS-C), with symptoms similar to Kawasaki syndrome, was described in young minors testing positive for COVID-19. The United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defined MIS-C as occurring in <21-year-olds, triggering hundreds of PubMed-listed papers. However, postpubertal adolescents are no longer children biologically; the term MIS-C is misleading. Furthermore, MIS also occurs in adults, termed MIS-A by the CDC. Acute and delayed inflammations can be triggered by COVID-19. The 18th birthday is an administrative not a biological age limit, whereas the body matures slowly during puberty. This blur in defining children leads to confusion regarding MIS-C/MIS-A. United States and European Union (EU) drug approval is handled separately for children, defined as <18-year-olds, ascribing non-existent physical characteristics up to the 18th birthday. This blur between the administrative and the physiological meanings for the term child is causing flawed demands for pediatric studies in all drugs and vaccines, including those against COVID-19. Effective treatment of all conditions, including COVID-19, should be based on actual physiological need. Now, the flawed definition for children in the development of drugs and vaccines and their approval is negatively impacting prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in minors. This review reveals the necessity for redefining pediatric age groups to rapidly establish recommendations for optimal prevention and treatment in minors.