Children are 'silent super spreaders' of Covid-19, scientists claim
Aug 23 2020
Two new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Saskatchewan Saturday, with 19 more recoveries, bringing the number of active cases to 117.
In the study of 192 children ages 0-22, 49 children tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and an additional 18 children had late-onset, COVID-19-related illness, according to the researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the US.
The research out of Massachusetts General Hospital and MassGeneral Hospital for Children shows that infected children - even those without symptoms - can have higher levels of virus in their airways than adults hospitalized in intensive care units.
Among the other preliminary findings: Age did not impact viral load (or amount of virus present) and that viral load appeared especially high about two days into the infection.
Having a high viral load - the number of particles of the virus someone is infected with - may make people more contagious, evidence suggests.
Children under the age of 10 are not as likely to express that the ACE2 receptor that the virus uses.
"These studies provide the first convincing data showing that an observed genetic change (mutation) in SARS-CoV-2 has affected the severity of disease in patients", said Gavin Smith at Duke-NUS.
'During this Covid-19 pandemic, we have mainly screened symptomatic subjects, so we have reached the erroneous conclusion the vast majority of people infected are adults.
A kid wears a protective face mask in Times Square in New York City.
Since the virus first appeared on December 31, its impact on children has been among the most baffling.
They pointed out children with Covid-19 are not as likely to become seriously ill as adults, which echoes previous studies finding severe disease to be unlikely in young people.
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. At least 97,000 kids tested positive for COVID-19 in the USA during the last two weeks of July, marking a 40% surge in the country's cumulative total of child cases.
Bill Kapogiannis, a National Institutes of Health researcher in pediatric infectious diseases who was not involved in Fasano's study, called those findings "potentially concerning" but said further investigation is needed to understand some of the signals. However, children can be highly contagious and can carry the virus into their households. The study also found typical symptoms of a cold or allergies were reported equally by kids who did and didn't have COVID-19. Dr Yonker said: 'You think of a hospital, and of all of the precautions taken to treat severely ill adults.
The more recent data could mean that "kids have been silent spreaders, and more attention needs to be paid to this fact", Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease specialist in Akron, Ohio, and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Life.
Although an acute SARS-CoV-2 infection tends to be mild or symptom-free in most pediatric cases, some children develop a multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). They consider routine and continued screening of all students for SARS-CoV-2 infection with timely reporting of the results an imperative part of a safe return-to-school policy. "Kids are a doable supply of spreading this virus and this could be taken under consideration within the planning levels for reopening colleges". "If schools were to reopen fully without necessary precautions, it is likely that children will play a larger role in this pandemic", the authors conclude.