A US infant has died from the COVID-19 illness, officials in the state of Illinois said on Saturday, marking an extremely rare case of juvenile death in the global pandemic. At a news conference, Governor JB Pritzker said "an infant" was among the fatalities linked to the new coronavirus over the previous 24 hours.
The state Department of Public Health said the child who died in Chicago was younger than one year old and had tested positive for COVID-19.
"There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant," the department's director Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.
"A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death." Pritzker described himself as shaken by the news.
"I know how difficult this news can be, especially about this very young child," he said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"It's especially sorrowful for the family of this very small child, for the years stolen from this infant. We should grieve." Last week, top French health official Jerome Salomon said a 16-year-old girl had died in the Ile-de-France region of Paris and its surroundings.
"Severe forms (of coronavirus) with the young are very rare," Salomon noted. In the US state of California last week, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said that a teenager had tested positive for COVID-19 and died.
But the agency added the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation.
Multiple studies have found the virus disproportionately affects older patients and those with underlying conditions.
The United States has the highest number of new coronavirus cases in the world, more than 120,000, although its death toll of more than 2,000 is still below that of other countries including Italy, Spain and China.
More than 450 US deaths occurred over the 24-hour period prior to Saturday afternoon.The Chicago baby was among 13 new deaths in Illinois.