EN: COVID Kids Bavaria – Results of the Bavaria-wide long-term study – DIE MITTELLÄNDISCHE ZEITUNG

DMZ – WISSENSCHAFT¦ Markus Golla ¦

From the summer of 2020, all six Bavarian university hospitals took part in a study on the incidence of infection in schools and day-care centers. The project was funded by the Bavarian Ministry of Science in order to scientifically monitor the impact of the opening of schools and day-care centers. The focus was on the children’s health. In a press conference on January 20, 2022, at the invitation of Science Minister Bernd Sibler, the director of the Department of Pediatrics at the LMU Klinikum, Prof. Christoph Klein, and the Head of the Infectious Diseases Department at the Department of Pediatrics, Prof. Dr. Johannes Hübner, present the central results.

As part of the COVID Kids Bavaria study, the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in 99 day-care centers and 48 primary schools was examined in an open cohort study across Bavaria. A total of 2,568 children (1,337 children in primary schools, 1,231 children in day-care centers) and 1,288 adults (466 primary school teachers, 822 educators in day-care centers) agreed to take part. In three consecutive surveys (October 2020, November/December 2020, March 2021), a total of samples from 7,062 throat swabs were PCR-based tested for SARS-CoV-2.

Bavaria’s Science Minister Bernd Sibler emphasized on the occasion of the presentation of the results: “COVID Kids Bavaria is another large piece of the puzzle for the overall view of Corona. The study is elaborately designed, takes the whole of Bavaria into account and thus provides a comprehensive database. Research work like this and the constant exchange with experts gives politics a scientifically sound basis to be able to better assess the pandemic situation in children. Our scientists are working tirelessly to better understand the virus. With their expertise, they are valuable and indispensable advisors for the state government. Only those who listen to professional advice make prudent and wise decisions. And we do.”

The data shows that there was no outbreak in the childcare centers during the survey phases. Only 13 samples were positive. The incidences correlated with the overall incidence in Bavaria. These studies therefore suggest that children were not “drivers of the pandemic events”.

Dynamic infection process and low number of participants

Not all of the invitees consented to participate in the study. This can result in distorting effects. Prof. Dr. Johannes Hübner, head of studies at COVID Kids Bavaria, explains, “that individual tests were still being carried out at that time. Today, based on the current state of knowledge, pool tests would be used, which might have led to a higher number of participants.” However, each study is a “child of its time”, as both study leaders emphasize, and this is all the more true in the very dynamic infection process of a pandemic.

In addition to the virological examinations, a so-called seroprevalence survey was carried out after the three planned survey phases. Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 are detected in blood samples.

The results are consistent with other Bavarian-wide study results (e.g. the Fr1da study) and therefore suggest that there were no major distortions in the survey.

The extensive data on the psychological and social effects of the pandemic are still being statistically evaluated.

According to the two doctors and scientists, the findings cannot be directly transferred to the current omicron variant of the coronavirus, since the infection dynamics differ from those of the wild-type variant that prevailed at the time.

All six Bavarian university hospitals were involved in the study: Augsburg, Erlangen, Munich (LMU and TUM), Regensburg, Würzburg. “Here, the academic pediatric medicine in Bavaria pulled together in good collegiality,” emphasizes Prof. Christoph Klein, also head of studies at COVID Kids Bavaria.

A manuscript with the data has been submitted to the preprint portal www.medrxiv.org.