Three out of four children in the US have had COVID-19

Three out of four American children have had the coronavirus, says a report released Tuesday.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined blood samples from more than 200,000 Americans, looking for antibodies derived from infections and not from vaccines. They found that evidence of past infections rose sharply between December and February, when the contagious omicron variant stalked the country.

The most pronounced increase was in children. The percentage of people age 17 and younger with antibodies rose from 45% in December to 75% in February.

As for the general population, 34% had signs of previous infection in December and 58% in February.

“I did think it was going to go up, but not that much,” said Dr. Kristie Clarke, co-leader of the CDC team in charge of tracking infections.

The older you were, the less likely you were to have signs of previous infections, the study found. For those 65 and older, 19% had signs of previous infections in December and 33% in February. That’s probably because older people tend to have higher vaccination rates and take preventive measures, like wearing a mask or avoiding crowds, Clarke estimated.

He added that the tests can detect antibodies a year or two after an infection, and perhaps longer.

According to trials, a prior infection might protect someone from becoming seriously ill or being hospitalized, but the CDC stresses that they should still get vaccinated, too.

The study looked for all types of detectable antibodies, without distinguishing between different protective antibodies. Scientists are still studying what role these antibodies play in preventing disease.

Authorities and experts insist on calling citizens to get the vaccines and also the booster ones, which offer greater protection against COVID-19 for everyone, including those previously infected.

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