Severity of COVID-19 in children with cancer: Report from the United Kingdom Paediatric Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project

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What a year 2020 has been. The early part of the year saw the emergence of a new respiratory illness in China that has since spread to become the COVID-19 pandemic and potentially changed our lives forever.

At the beginning of the pandemic, information on the severity of the illness in different groups was sketchy and often conflicting. The global paediatric oncology community moved at pace to ensure the safety of our patients and encourage open data sharing(1).

There was an urgent need for robust high quality data on the impact of COVID-19 on children with cancer and so the UK Paediatric Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring project was born. What started out as an informal discussion between colleagues who were setting up a similar project for adults soon morphed over a few short weeks into a national network of paediatric oncologists working together to collect data to provide real time advice on the impact this was having on our patients.

Working with colleagues from a host of academic centres coordinated by the University of Birmingham and with excellent support from the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (https://www.cclg.org.uk/) by the beginning of April the project was launched and shortly afterwards every centre in the UK treating paediatric patients with cancer was signed up to contribute to the study.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the paediatric oncology teams around the country. You already know that you do an amazing job for our patients every day. The rapid response to this project allowed us to show that children with cancer are at no more risk of severe forms of COVID-19 than the general paediatric population. Your support has enabled the CCLG to continually change the advice on shielding throughout the pandemic which has made a huge difference to our patients and their families. Thank you. 

  1. Bouffet E, Challinor J, Sullivan M, Biondi A, Rodriguez‐Galindo C, Pritchard‐Jones K. Early advice on managing children with cancer during the COVID‐19 pandemic and a call for sharing experiences. Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2020;67(7).

Gerard Millen

Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Fellow, University of Birmingham