Published: 12th November 2021
Indian children are not more susceptible to getting COVID: Experts at Edex Live webcast on going back to school
The World Health Organisation has time and again made it clear that even if children contract COVID, they are in a much better position to handle it than adults
While going back to school is an exciting beginning for the students, it is also the beginning of constant stress for parents as they worry about whether their children will contract COVID. Immunologist and T Cell Biologist with the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson in the US, Dr Arun Kumar Kannan, said, "There is no evidence to suggest that Indian children are more susceptible to the Coronavirus." However, he added that the Delta variant spreads faster and hence we can say that children are just at risk of catching COVID as adults.
He was speaking at a webcast organised by Edex Live in partnership with Nattura Biocare. Principal of Bala Vidya Mandir in Chennai, Dr Srinivasa Raghavan, Dr TS Chellakumarasamy, Physiatrist and MD, URC Hospitals and Professor D Natarajan, who is a pharma researcher in Ayurveda and Siddha.
Kannan, who is based in the US, said, "We have to stick to our leanings and use strategies such as vaccination, masking and physical distance to stay safe." He added that these are the only approaches that have been proven to work and he is hopeful that they will protect us from subsequent variants. One interesting aspect is that Indian children, in general, are better equipped to fight diseases as they have been exposed to a lot more pathogens in their early life. However, he was quick to add that it would be a false assumption to specifically say that Indian children are more or less safer to COVID because of this than children in the west.
But is it possible to follow these protocols all the time?
Principal of Bala Vidya Mandir in Chennai, Dr Srinivasa Raghavan, said that some of the things may not always be possible to follow for children and schools alike. He gave an example of differing school infrastructure. "Certain schools have good ventilation but in certain schools this is not possible. So each school needs to evaluate its facility and adopt a model accordingly to support the children." It is noteworthy that the World Health Organization has time and again made it clear that even if children contract COVID, they are in a much better position to handle it than adults.
On the other hand, Dr TS Chellakumarasamy said that making students follow these protocols may be easy in the school, which is a controlled environment but it may be tough in places such as school buses. "Even when it comes to school intervals, there has to be some relaxation in school timings so that during intervals there is not much crowding."
Back to traditional pathways
Professor D Natarajan, who is a pharma researcher in Ayurveda and Siddha, said that herbal materials such as Tulsi and Ashwagandha can become part of the daily diet to strengthen a child's overall health. "It is important to follow a balanced diet to be on a safe path." Dr Chellakumarasamy said that adequate protein through diet is necessary to maintain a healthy immune system. "Protein plays a major role for children to develop basic immunity but it is important not to overload children with protein either." He added that too much immunity is dangerous. "Immunity needs to be balanced. When it goes to a higher side, there is an issue of autoimmune disease." To maintain a balance, he points towards a balanced diet.