The CDC estimates that 3 out of 4 children have had coronavirus infections

NEW YORK (AP) — Three out of four American children have been infected with the coronavirus and more than half of all Americans have shown signs of previous infections, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers estimated in a report Tuesday.

The researchers looked at blood samples from more than 200,000 Americans and looked for antibodies to the virus made from infections, not vaccines. They found that signs of past infection increased dramatically between December and February, when the more contagious omicron variant emerged in the United States

The most striking increase concerns children. The percentage of people 17 and under with antibodies has risen from around 45% in December to around 75% in February.

For Americans of all ages, about 34% had signs of previous infection in December. Just two months later, 58% have done so.

“I expected it to increase. I didn’t expect it to increase that much,” said Dr Kristie Clarke, co-leader of a CDC team that tracks the extent of infections. to coronavirus.

The older the elderly, the less evidence they had of past infections, the study found. For people aged 65 and over, 19% had signs of previous infection in December and 33% in February. This may be because older people have higher vaccination rates and may be more likely to take other COVID-19 precautions, such as wearing masks and avoiding crowds. said Clarke.

Clarke said the tests can detect antibodies for one to two years after infection, and possibly longer.

Studies have shown that prior infection can protect some people from severe illness and hospitalization, but CDC officials have stressed that previously infected people should still receive COVID-19 vaccines.

The study looked for any detectable levels of antibodies; it did not distinguish how many people had antibody levels that might be protective. Scientists are still trying to figure out what role these types of antibodies play in protecting against future exposures to the virus.

Officials continue to urge Americans to get vaccines and booster shots, which provide additional protection against COVID-19 for everyone, including those who have already been infected.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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