- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2020

The National Institutes of Health said Monday it has launched a study to help determine the infection rate of the coronavirus in children and their relatives in the U.S. and have begun enrolling participants.

The Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2, or HEROS, study will try to determine what percentage of infected children develop symptoms and whether infections rates differ among children who have asthma or allergic conditions and those who do not.

“One interesting feature of this novel coronavirus pandemic is that very few children have become sick with COVID-19 compared to adults,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is funding the study. “Is this because children are resistant to infection with SARS-CoV-2, or because they are infected but do not develop symptoms? The HEROS study will help us begin to answer these and other key questions.”

HEROS study researchers will enroll 6,000 people from 2,000 U.S. families already participating in NIH-funded pediatric research studies in 11 cities.

The study will include healthy children and children with asthma or allergic conditions, and follow them and their families for six months to learn about transmission patterns.

Dr. Tina Hartert, a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, will lead the study.

“So far, data on the extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the U.S. population have been limited to people who physically interact with the health care system: those who are tested — especially those who test positive — and those with severe disease,” Dr. Hartert said. “These data provide real-time guidance in a setting of limited test availability, but they don’t enable us to understand the full extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the entire population. The HEROS study will help fill this knowledge gap and inform public health interventions.”

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