Are COVID-19 positive children less likely to infect others?

DETROITAs experts consider the factors related to reopening schools, daycare and camps, it is important to understand how the virus spreads in children.

A newly published study suggests there may be a reason for optimism when it comes to children. Even though there is concern about cases of the recently identified Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, children have accounted for less than 2 percent of documented COVID-19 cases and are less affected in terms of severity.

The new report suggests children may also be less likely to spread the virus.

Using careful contact tracing -- researchers in Switzerland studied the way in which COVID-19 spread to and from 39 children under the age of 16 who were diagnosed with coronavirus.

They found that the child was the first person in a household to be infected in only 8 percent of the cases. In 79 percent of households, at least one adult family member was suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 prior to the child developing symptoms, meaning the majority of the time the infection spread from a parent in the household to a child, not the other way around.

Interestingly, among symptomatic family members, 92 percent of mothers developed symptoms, compared to 75 percent of fathers.

In an accompanying editorial, other researchers speculate that this information combined with the results from other studies suggest that children may not be significant drivers of COVID-19 spread, suggesting it is possible that because they usually have minimal symptoms with less frequent coughing, they may release fewer infectious particles into the area around them.

This was only a small observational description of cases, but it still raises the possibility that it may be safer to open schools than previously calculated. Clearly more study will be needed before any broad conclusions can be drawn.

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