Long COVID (post-COVID-19 condition) in children: a modified Delphi process.
Stephenson T., Allin B., Nugawela MD., Rojas N., Dalrymple E., Pinto Pereira S., Soni M., Knight M., Cheung EY., Heyman I., CLoCk Consortium None., Shafran R.
ObjectiveThe aim of this study was to derive a research definition for 'Long COVID (post-COVID-19 condition)' in children and young people (CYP) to allow comparisons between research studies.DesignA three-phase online Delphi process was used, followed by a consensus meeting. Participants were presented with 49 statements in each phase and scored them from 1 to 9 based on how important they were for inclusion in the research definition of Long COVID in CYP. The consensus meeting was held to achieve representation across the stakeholder groups. Statements agreed at the consensus meeting were reviewed by participants in the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Research Advisory Group.SettingThe study was conducted remotely using online surveys and a virtual consensus meeting.Participants120 people with relevant expertise were divided into three panels according to their area of expertise: Service Delivery, Research (or combination of research and service delivery) and Lived Experience. The PPI Research Advisory group consisted of CYP aged 11-17 years.Main outcome measuresConsensus was defined using existing guidelines. If consensus was achieved in two or more panels or was on the border between one and two panels, those statements were discussed and voted on at the consensus meeting.ResultsTen statements were taken forward for discussion in the consensus meeting and five statements met threshold to be included in the research definition of Long COVID among CYP. The research definition, aligned to the clinical case definition of the WHO, is proposed as follows: Post-COVID-19 condition occurs in young people with a history of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, with at least one persisting physical symptom for a minimum duration of 12 weeks after initial testing that cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis. The symptoms have an impact on everyday functioning, may continue or develop after COVID infection, and may fluctuate or relapse over time. The positive COVID-19 test referred to in this definition can be a lateral flow antigen test, a PCR test or an antibody test.ConclusionsThis is the first research definition of Long COVID (post-COVID-19 condition) in CYP and complements the clinical case definition in adults proposed by the WHO.