Risk of Hospitalization, severe disease, and mortality due to COVID-19 and PIMS-TS in children with SARS-CoV-2 infection in Germany

Background: Although children and adolescents have a lower burden of SARS-CoV-2-associated disease as compared to adults, assessing absolute risk among children remains difficult due to a high rate of undetected cases. However, without more accurate case numbers, reliable risk analyses are impossible. Methods: We combine data from three sources – a national seroprevalence study (the SARS-CoV-2 KIDS study), the German statutory notification system and a nationwide registry on children and adolescents hospitalized with either SARS-CoV-2 or Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS-TS) – in order to provide reliable estimates on childrens hospitalization, intensive care admission and death due to COVID-19 and PIMS-TS. Results: While the overall hospitalization rate associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection was 35.9 per 10,000 children, ICU admission rate was 1.7 per 10,000 and case fatality was 0.09 per 10,000. Children without comorbidities were found to be significantly less likely to suffer from a severe or fatal disease course. The lowest risk was observed in children aged 5-11 without comorbidities. In this group, the ICU admission rate was 0.2 per 10,000 and case fatality could not be calculated, due to an absence of cases. The overall PIMS-TS rate was 1 per 4,000 SARS-CoV-2 infections, the majority being children without comorbidities.

Conclusion: Overall, the SARS-CoV-2-associated burden of a severe disease course or death in children and adolescents is low. This seems particularly the case for 5-11-year-old children without comorbidities. By contrast, PIMS-TS plays a major role in overall disease burden among all pediatric age groups.

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