Breakthrough finding shows children are silent spreaders of COVID-19
Aug 22 2020
It can also give the bug a "jump start".
"It is already fairly well documented that children do indeed contract the coronavirus causing Covid-19 and that they produce it in large quantities".
"How likely are you to pick up every case of COVID?"
"There's still so much we don't know about the long-term effects of coronavirus, but this study has given us vital new insight into what challenges patients may face in their recovery and will help us prepare for those needs", said Dr Rebecca Smith of the North Bristol NHS Trust.
The researchers said their findings imply that in school settings, scans for body temperatures and the search for symptoms such as fever would not be reliable methods to identify children who might be infected.
The role of children in the spread of the coronavirus is highly contested because it has huge implications for the re-opening of schools, which has been the subject of fierce debate in Britain.
A study released Thursday shows that children may play a larger role in community spread of COVID-19 than previously understood.
"Coronavirus carrier children "silent super-spreaders" with high viral loads, study finds".
More than a quarter of the 192 children enrolled in the study tested positive for COVID-19.
"This study provides much-needed facts for policymakers to make the best decisions possible for schools, daycare centers and other institutions that serve children", Fasano said.
"The potential for spreading the virus without any symptoms is very concerning and is a warning that even though somebody isn't sick, you should still wear a mask, follow social distancing, and maintain all of the recommendations that are put out to mitigate the spread of the virus", Yonker said.
Yet infected youngsters were found to have to have a significantly higher level of virus in their airways than 162 adults who had been hospitalised with the virus. Dr Yonker said: 'You think of a hospital, and of all of the precautions taken to treat severely ill adults.
Worryingly, transmissibility of a virus rises in tandem with the quantity an individual is carrying.
Existing studies suggest that children are less likely to become seriously ill from catching SARS-CoV-2, but those without symptoms can spread the infection.
The researchers warn that, because children are so often asymptomatic - meaning they show no symptoms, they could be spread the infection at school and bring it home without knowing.
This is a particular concern for families in certain socio-economic groups, which have been harder hit in the pandemic, and families with vulnerable older adults in their homes.
The researchers also studied immune response in MIS-C, a multi-organ, systemic infection that can develop in children with COVID-19 several weeks after infection, which can cause severe cardiac problems, shock, and acute heart failure.
SARS-CoV-2 is thought to enter cells by using ACE-2 receptors on cell surfaces, which acts as a "doorway". Shortly before that, investigators in South Korea found in a household study that older children passed on the virus as readily as adults, while younger children did not. This finding suggests that children even with fewer virus receptors can carry high viral loads and thus be contagious, the researchers said.
COVID-19's effects on children were not greatly documented until now and names like Elon Musk and Donald Trump were spreading false information about kids having immunity against the virus. "We should not discount children as potential spreaders for this virus", Fasano said.
With all these studies, scientists conclude that children should be kept under vigilant monitoring until their infection clears up completely.
However, the study only looked at symptomatic children, and did not measure transmission itself.
Dr. Alessio Fasano, Massachusetts General Hospital's Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center director and the author of the study, explained that contrary to what was initially believed, kids are not immune from the pandemic.
DeBiasi added that based on other respiratory illnesses, children are known spreaders.
"The study was not created to assess risk of transmission".
The MGH researchers also found that the high viral loads were found regardless of the age of the patient. The mean age of the children in the study was 10 years.