More than 1,000 cases have been identified in 35 countries and 22 deaths have been recorded following these hepatitis, according to the WHO.
1,000 cases and 22 deaths. Last April, the World Health Organization classified as “public health event of concern“unexplained cases of acute hepatitis affecting children, while acknowledging not being able to accurately assess the risk.
The majority of affected children are under the age of six, and some 5% of them have had to receive a liver transplant.
Studies not yet verified
But this Monday, July 25, two scientific studies have shed new light on these mysterious cases, report several media. They were conducted by scientists in Scotland and England.
Both studies, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, concluded thata Covid-19 infection was not responsible because “coronavirus was not detected in the livers of the sick children studied, and the proportion of them showing antibodies against Covid-19 was similar to that of children not affected by these hepatitises.”
Co-infection of two viruses?
What is its origin then? These studies thus point to another culprit: a common virus called AAV2 (adeno-associated virus 2), detected at high levels in sick children. This virus is not normally known to cause disease.
It cannot replicate itself, and needs another virus for this, an adenovirus (upper respiratory tract infections), or more rarely the herpes virus (HHV6).
Researchers believe that the co-infection of two viruses (AAV2 and an adenovirus, or HHV6) is currently the best explanation for these cases of hepatitis.