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Active Surveillance With Seroprevalence-based Infection Rates Indicates Racial Disparities With Pediatric SARS-CoV-2 Requiring Hospitalization in Mississippi, March 2020-February 2021.

BACKGROUND: Racial disparities in SARS-CoV-2 infection, hospitalization, and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) have been reported. However, these reports have been based on incomplete data relying on passive reporting, unknown catchment populations, and unknown infection prevalence. We aimed to characterize population-based incidence of MIS-C and COVID-19 hospitalizations among non-Hispanic Black and White children using active surveillance based on seroprevalence-based cumulative incidence of pediatric SARS-CoV-2 infection in a defined catchment 16-county area of Mississippi.

METHODS: Active, population-based surveillance for MIS-C and acute COVID-19 hospitalizations meeting clinical and laboratory criteria was conducted by adjudicating clinicians at the major pediatric referral hospital for Mississippi, University of Mississippi Medical Center, from March 2020, to February 2021. Race-stratified SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence was estimated using convenience samples from persons <18 years to calculate cumulative SARS-CoV-2 infections in the population.

RESULTS: Thirty-eight MIS-C cases and 74 pediatric acute COVID-19 hospitalizations were identified. Cumulative incidence of MIS-C was 4.7 times higher among Black compared with White children (40.7 versus 8.3 cases per 100,000 SARS-CoV-2 infections). Cumulative incidence of COVID-19 hospitalization was 62.3 among Black and 33.1 among White children per 100,000 SARS-CoV-2 infections.

CONCLUSIONS: From the same catchment area, active surveillance, and cumulative incidence of infection estimated by seroprevalence, we show strikingly higher incidence of SARS-CoV-2-hospitalization and MIS-C in non-Hispanic Black children compared with White children before COVID-19 vaccination introduction in children. These disparities in SARS-CoV-2 manifestations cannot be accounted for by differences in exposure or testing. Targeted vaccine interventions will lessen disparities observed with SARS-CoV-2 manifestations in children.

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