Difference in clinical features of SARS-CoV-2 in pediatric patients before and after emergence of P.1.
BACKGROUND: The P.1 variant is a Variant of Concern announced by the WHO. The present work aimed to characterize the clinical features of pediatric patients with SARS-CoV-2 before and after the emergence of P.1. METHODS: This is a cohort study. Data of symptomatic patients younger than 18 years diagnosed with COVID-19 by PCR tests registered in Painel COVID-19 Amazonas were analyzed. RESULTS: A total of 4080 symptomatic pediatric patients were identified in the database between March 2020 and July 2021, of which 1654 were categorized as pre-P.1 and 978 as P.1-dominant cases, based on the prevalence of P.1 of >90% in the North Region, Brazil. Lower case-fatality rate was observed in non-infants infected during the P.1-dominant period (0.9% vs. 2.2%). In general, patients infected during the P.1-dominant period had less fever (70.8% vs. 74.2%) and less lower respiratory tract symptoms (respiratory distress: 11.8% vs. 18.9%, dyspnea: 27.9% vs. 34.5%) yet higher prevalence of neurological symptoms, headache for example (42.8% vs. 5.9%). CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of symptoms of COVID-19 can differ across different periods of variant dominance. Lower prevalence of fever during the P.1-dominant period may reduce the effectiveness of symptom-based screening in public premises where laboratory diagnostic tests are not available. IMPACT: The prevalence rate of symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection can differ among different variants. The present work documents the difference in the clinical features of SARS-CoV-2 in patients aged below 18 years before and after the emergence of P.1, the first study of its kind. Unlike previous studies that focus solely on hospitalized cases, the present work considers both mild and severe cases. While non-infants had a lower fatality rate, lower prevalence of fever associated with the emergence of P.1 may reduce the effectiveness of symptom-based screening in public premises where laboratory diagnostic tests are not available.