Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

First results of the What’s the STORY (Serum Testing Of Representative Youngsters) trial indicate higher resilience of children to COVID-19 compared to other respiratory illnesses.

Boy and girl playing piggyback rides. © Image by Pexels

What’s the STORY – a study run by the Oxford Vaccine Group in collaboration with Public Health England and funded by the National Institute for Health Research – investigates the prevalence of COVID-19 in children. Assessing the rates of coronavirus infection and immunity in children and teenagers will help to identify their role in spreading the disease, thus providing essential data for guiding governmental response to the pandemic.

The nationwide trial, commenced in February 2020, is led by Professor Matthew Snape from the Oxford Vaccine Group. As part of the study, OVG researchers assess the participants’ immunity by checking for coronavirus antibodies – the presence of which indicates that a child has already had COVID-19, even though they might not necessarily have shown symptoms.

Initial results of the trial show that between 3 and 4 percent of children in the study tested positive for antibodies – however, of those who tested positive, fewer than 10 percent showed any symptoms of COVID-19. The proportion of participants with detected antibodies was much higher in London than in other study sites.

These results suggest that although very few children and teenagers are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, their infection rates are not that different from those seen in adults. Together with other studies this indicates COVID-19 does not spread readily via children, making it very different to other respiratory diseases, such as influenza. The finding “provides some reassurance when it comes to opening schools”, stated Professor Snape in an interview for BBC Newsnight.

More information about the study can be found on the What’s the STORY trial website, and the NIHR site.

Listen to Deb Cohen's interview with Professor Matthew Snape's on BBC Newsnight:

Similar stories

Com-COV vaccine study to research third dose booster options for 12-to-15-year-olds

Researchers running the University of Oxford-led Com-COV programme have launched a further study of COVID-19 vaccination schedules in young people aged 12 to 15 – with a focus on assessing different options for a third dose booster vaccination.

Fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose provides stronger immunity boost than third dose, shows UK study

COVID-19 vaccines given as fourth doses in the UK offer excellent boosting immunity protection, according to the latest results from a nationwide NIHR-supported study.

Oxford to work with Brazil to establish clinical research hub

The University of Oxford and Brazilian Ministry of Health have announced a joint initiative to set up a global health and clinical research unit in Brazil led by Professor Sue Ann Clemens CBE.

One billion doses: A moment to celebrate but not a time to be complacent

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity, takes a moment to reflect on one billion doses of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine released worldwide.

Severe disease, not mild infection, makes a pandemic – vaccines still offer our best hope

If the current high levels of protection against severe disease are sustained, the global public health emergency will be curtailed by the ongoing vaccine rollout - writes Andrew Pollard for The Independent.

Oxford vaccine reaches one billion doses released

The University of Oxford’s and our partners AstraZeneca have today announced that one billion doses of the ChAdOx1 nCov-19 coronavirus vaccine have been released, to more than 170 countries, marking a key milestone as part of the University and AstraZeneca’s joint vision to make the available to the world, on a not-for-profit basis for the world during the pandemic, and in perpetuity for low- and middle-income countries.