Kids Highly Likely to Transmit COVID to Others

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY January 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Although children are less likely to contract the novel coronavirus, they are almost 60% more likely than adults over 60 to infect other family members when they are sick, according to a new study.

The results show the need for studies on the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine in children, according to Yang Yang, study co-lead author, associate professor of biostatistics and member of the Institute of emerging pathogens from the University of Florida.

“We must also take into account the high infectious potential of children when we plan to reopen schools and the preventive measures we need to take during active school sessions,” Yang said in a university press release.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 27,000 households in Wuhan, China, which confirmed cases of COVID-19 between December 2, 2019 and April 18, 2020, a peak period of transmission of the COVID-19 disease in the city that was the first epicenter of the pandemic.

Previous research has found that children excrete SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, at rates similar to adults. According to the study authors, the higher infectivity of the children in this study may be due to close contact with parents and other relatives who care for them.

They noted that the overall contribution of children’s cases to home transmission of COVID-19 was still limited as infected children were isolated faster than infected adults.

The study also found that infants under one year of age were significantly more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than children aged 2 to 5. This may be due to a combination of their still developing immune system and close contact with adults. .

“It is unlikely that there will be a vaccine for infants against COVID-19 in the near future, so we must protect their caregivers,” said study co-author Ira Longini, professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida. “We may want to prioritize caregivers for COVID-19 vaccination to indirectly protect infants, as we don’t really know the long-term consequences of infection, especially in infants.


Among the other results of the study:

  • People who were asymptomatic throughout their infection were 80% less infectious than people with symptoms, and people with presymptoms were about 40% more infectious than people with symptoms.
  • The secondary attack rate – the likelihood of someone with COVID-19 infecting another member of their household – was 15.6%, a rate similar to that of other respiratory pathogens.
  • Older adults were more likely to be infected than younger members of the household, especially those under 20.
  • While children were less susceptible to COVID-19 infection than adults and generally had less severe symptoms, they were just as likely to develop symptoms as adults.

“I recommend following the CDC’s guidelines and being extra careful when a member of the household or family is infected,” Yang said. “This includes wearing masks if anyone in the family is showing symptoms, especially when you need to be in close contact, good hand hygiene, cleaning surfaces, and testing asymptomatic household members for COVID-19,” if possible.”

The results were published on January 18 in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

More information

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.

SOURCE: University of Florida, press release, January 19, 2021

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