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Most Children Don’t Develop Long-Haul COVID After an Infection, According to a Large New Study

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Most children who get COVID-19 recover within a week, according to a large U.K. study that may help soothe fears about whether kids who get sick will face the most protracted forms of the disease.

Some 4.4% of 1,734 children with symptomatic COVID in the study experienced symptoms for longer than four weeks, most often fatigue, headaches and loss of smell, researchers said in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.

The research team followed 250,000 children in the U.K., between five and 17 years old, between September of last year and Feb. 22. “This data is reassuring to families, to parents, to teachers and to children who are affected,” said Emma Duncan, a professor of clinical endocrinology from King’s College London and lead author of the study. “Most children will get better with time.”

The results come amid debate about how broadly to vaccinate teenagers. Thus far, U.K. authorities have said they’ll target only 12- to 17-year-olds with underlying health conditions for a COVID shot. Germany, in contrast, is seeking to give its slowing inoculation drive a boost by offering shots to all teenagers.

The analysis was done before the fast-spreading delta variant had become dominant in the U.K., though the research team said data pertaining to delta in children has so far matched what was seen with earlier variants.

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