How younger children can spread coronavirus as much as adults

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Happy young Indian children in school education making body contacts and not observing social distancing. Younger children in schools, creche and daycare can transmit coronavirus infection to others as much as the adults. Image by Akshaya Patra Foundation from Pixabay

Health Education: How younger children can spread coronavirus as much as adults

How younger pupil can infect others with COVID-19 in schools just as the way adults do

Older pupils between the ages of 10 – 19 can transmit COVID-19 as well as adults

Initial studies that suggested that younger children are less likely to transmit the virus were small and flawed

 

It has been discovered that younger pupils less than 5 years of age can transmit coronavirus in schools, crèche, daycare centres as much as adults according to a study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Again, discoveries, published in JAMA Paediatrics, point to the possibility that the youngest children transmit the virus as much as other age groups.

According to the study, children younger than 5 years with mild to moderate COVID-19 have much higher levels of genetic material between 10 to 100 times greater levels for the virus in the nose compared to older children and adults.

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Dr Taylor Heald-Sargent, the lead author of the journal and specialist in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, at Ann & Robert H.Lurie Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Paediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said that they have found that children under 5 with COVID-19 have a higher viral load than older children and adults, which may suggest greater transmission, as we see with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

Dr Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota, affirmed strongly that there will be transmission and recommended that we accept that and include that in our plans now.

These discoveries have important public health implications, especially during discussions on the safe reopening of schools and daycare centres.

Taylor Heald-Sargent, MD, PhD, with his colleagues, analyzed 145 cases of mild to moderate COVID-19 illness within the first week of symptom onset. They compared the viral load in three age groups — children younger than 5 years, children 5-17 years and adults 18-65 years.

A new study in South Korea shows that the possibility of younger pupils who are below 10 years of age to transmit the coronavirus is much less often than adults do but older pupils in schools between the ages of 10-19 years can spread the virus at least as well as adults do, according to the same study.

Several scientific and medical experts have warned that there would likely be clusters of COVID-19 infections in school children of all ages in community schools and daycare when schools reopen.

Dr Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said that several studies from Europe and Asia that suggested that young children are less likely to get infected and to spread the virus were small and flawed, but the new study was very carefully done, systematic and looks at a very large population.

Dr Jha described the latest study as one of the best they had carried out on the issue to date.

Last week, there was intense pressure on U.K Education Secretary of the Department of Education, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson, from the public to publish U.K Government research into the effect of secondary school pupils in the transmission of COVID-19.after a new finding showed that older pupils can spread coronavirus.

Some believe that the rate of transmission or infection of coronavirus among children in schools, creche and daycare will be better determined when schools reopen and the children are allowed to resume classes.

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