Researchers show children are silent spreaders of virus that causes COVID-19

Coronavirus in children

Children play larger role than previously thought as 'silent spreaders' in transmission of coronavirus

"This study warns that children may play a bigger role in the spread of this pandemic if appropriate precautions are not taken", Yonker advised Newsweek.

The study, conducted by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Hospital for Children, looked at 192 children ages 0-22, of which 49 tested positive for Covid-19, and another 18 children had late-onset Covid-19-related illness. 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.

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.

"This suggests that although children and young adults with asthma may commonly experience exacerbation in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection, asthma exacerbation is not the primary determinant of more severe disease requiring hospitalization", they wrote.

Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Analysis Heart at MGH and senior writer of the research, mentioned that well being specialists have come to the "faulty conclusion" that adults are the overwhelming majority of these contaminated as a result of "we now have primarily screened symptomatic topics". That study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

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"It just reinforces that we are far from out of the woods and with a second wave potentially upon us, it's important to remember and to heed and learn from it, more than anything else".

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According to the researchers, including those from the University of Science and Technology of China, current Covid-19 testing is a time-consuming laboratory procedure in addition to being uncomfortable.

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). "And they need to consider enforcing mask-wearing, social distancing, taking advantage of remote learning when possible - pretty simple measures that can be done to make reentry into schools safer".

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Professor Fasano fears a hurried return to school without proper planning could result in an uptick in cases of Covid-19 infections.

"This study provides much-needed facts for policymakers to make the best decisions possible for schools, daycare centres and other institutions that serve children", Dr Fasano said. "If schools were to reopen fully without necessary precautions, it is likely that children will play a larger role in this pandemic", they wrote.

With schools in several states reopening, health experts have expressed concern about the possibility of the presence of coronavirus "silent spreaders" among the kids.

The research was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the MGH Department of Pediatrics the MGH Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology and private donors.

The research could not prove whether the kindergarteners were more infectious at the time.

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Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.

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