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Masks, social distancing may have weakened children’s immune system: Report

Social distancing and using masks due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis may have saved many, but they have also weakened the immune system in children, believe experts in England.

According to them, children for the last 15 months or so have not had great encounters with viral pathogens, causing seasonal flu. As a result, their bodies have not been able to build the immunity to fight the bugs in the post-pandemic days.

Virologists are also concerned about Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), a virus that leads to serious lung infection, and sometimes even death, in children under the age of one. Also, there’s no vaccine for it, reported The Guardian.

Experts said that in the pre-Covid days, RSV brought more children to the hospital than any other seasonal bug. However, masks and social distancing kept children away from contracting the disease during the pandemic.

ALSO READ: Why are more children testing positive for Covid-19 in India’s second wave?

But with a return to normalcy, RSV may turn more fatal. Children will catch the disease again because masks, social distancing and other Covid-related protocols will eventually be abolished.

“Flu worries me, but there is a vaccine and so the most vulnerable will still have access to the vaccines,” said Dr Catherine Moore, consultant clinical scientist for Public Health Wales, as quoted in the news report.

According to the report, more than 30,000 babies and children under the age of five were annually admitted to hospitals in the United Kingdom because of RSV before the pandemic.

“We’ve got two cohorts now of children who’ve never met the virus, so they are susceptible, but there’s two years’ worth of them! We are preparing for a significant impact in paediatrics,” said Moore.

William Irving, a professor of virology from the University of Nottingham, echoed the view and said, “We didn’t see flu last winter, so if it comes back this coming winter, it may be particularly nasty.”

ALSO READ: Think Covid-19 is mild among children? Study finds coronavirus turned severe for thousands in India

India Today

India Today is a weekly Indian English-language news magazine published by Living Media India Limited. It is the most widely circulated magazine in India, with a readership of close to 8 million. In 2014, India Today launched a new online opinion-orientated site called the DailyO.

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