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The COVID-19 Family Cohort: Understanding Children's Different Responses to the Virus

Research project led by Université de Montréal-CHU Sainte-Justine: Dr. Fatima Kakkar, Clinical Assistant Professor, Infectious Diseases Service, Department of Pediatrics


Collaborators :


- Sainte-Justine UHC Research Centre: Dr. Hugo Soudeyns, expert in viral pathogens and immune responses, Dr. Elie Haddad, Dr. Hélène Decaluwe, Dr. Fabien Touzot, clinician-scientists, experts in immunology;

- McGill University: Dr. Jesse Papenburg, expert in pediatric viral pathogens;

- Sherbooke UHC: Prof. Christiane Auray Blais, expert in metabolomics for disease screening and diagnosis.


What is the objective of the project?

The objective of this study is to compare the specific clinical presentation of COVID-19 and immunological responses to infection in children compared to adults, and to determine the duration of immunity over time (kinetics of humoral and cellular immune responses).

In order to investigate key questions for the development of herd immunity to COVID-19, this study will use the database of families at CHU Sainte-Justine whose child tested positive at the screening clinic. It will compare the immune response of young patients to that of adults and will measure how immunity persists over time for both groups.

This study will help understand why, by comparing the immune response to infection. Researchers will also assess how long these individuals will remain protected against future infection after they have had it once.


What makes this project unique?

One of the most striking features of the COVID-19 pandemic is the way children were affected compared to adults. In a family where several members were infected at the same time, parents and grandparents were much sicker than children.

The COVID-19 family cohort at Sainte-Justine represents a unique opportunity to study and compare the immune recognition and protection dynamics of these groups, which will contribute to collective efforts to make a vaccine available.


What will be the impact of the advances?

The results of the studies will be used to guide public health decisions during the current pandemic and potential future waves. It is essential to improve our understanding of the evolution of the disease in children compared to adults. This study will help to understand why, by comparing the immune response to infection. We will also assess how long these individuals will remain protected against future infection after having had it once.