Prof Sir Terence Stephenson, the lead author of the University College London study on long Covid in children, has been talking to BBC Radio 4’s the World At One about its implications.
He says that when they began the research in December 2020, some people were speculating that as many as half of all children who caught coronavirus would develop long Covid.
The study offers reassurance that it is nowhere near that prevalent, he says, suggesting that more like one-in-seven or one-in-14 cases become long Covid.
Prof Stephenson says the data should help policy-makers make decisions on issues such as school safety or the vaccination of children.
“This provides some data that allows them to make judgements and policy decisions on hard evidence, rather than speculation,” he says.
“It’s good that we can say it’s not overwhelming. But it’s also important to say we can’t trivialise this.”
There was “no difference” in mental health between those who contracted Covid, those who didn’t, and young people surveyed over the last ten years, Prof Stephenson says.
It seems young people’s mental health is “bearing up well” in the pandemic, he says.
The most common lasting symptoms were headaches, fatigue, dizziness and the loss of a sense of smell or taste. But Prof Stephenson says all of these are treatable.
He says they will continue to monitor young people’s health at six months, 12 months and 24 months after their positive test.