A new report sheds light on how children can play an knowing role in the spread of COVID-19, presenting difficult challenges as the summer comes to a close, inching towards the beginning of the school season where students are expected to return to the classroom.
According to the report published Thursday in the JAMA Pediatrics journal, children younger than five may host up to 100 times of the virus in the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat) as adults, while children older than five carry at least as much as grown ups.
Researchers examined swab samples from 145 people in the Chicago area between March 23 and April 27. 46 children in the study were younger than 5; 51 children were aged 5 to 17, and 48 adults were aged 18 to 65.
Researchers did not examine race, sex, or pre-existing conditions, and excluded children who needed oxygen support. Researchers only surveyed Children who reported a fever of cough. The study also does not state that children are more contagious than other groups.
“The school situation is so complicated — there are many nuances beyond just the scientific one,” said Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent in an interview with The New York Times. Dr. Heald-Sargent is a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, who led the study.
“But one takeaway from this is that we can’t assume that just because kids aren’t getting sick, or very sick, that they don’t have the virus.”
“I’ve heard lots of people saying, ‘Well, kids aren’t susceptible, kids don’t get infected.’ And this clearly shows that’s not true,” said Stacey Schultz-Cherry, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in an interview with The Times.
“I think this is an important, really important, first step in understanding the role that kids are playing in transmission.”