Infected children under the age of 5 can carry up to 100 times more of their nasal and throat coronavirus than adults – while older children are at least as old as adults, according to new research.
That despite showing mild symptoms, the study, published Thursday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, was found.
Scientists looked at swab samples from 95 children, many of whom reported low-grade fever or cough, in the Chicago area. The study does not prove that infected children are contagious, however, the authors believe it should be considered in the debate on reopening schools.
“The school situation is so complicated – there are so many nuances beyond the scientific one,” Dr Taylor Heald-Sargent, an infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital Ann and Robert H. Lurie, who led the study told the New York Times.
“But one thing that̵7;s taken away from this is that we can’t assume that just because kids don’t walk, or are very sick, they don’t have the virus.”
Heald-Sargent added that, “It wouldn’t be a surprise if [kids] they could spread the virus and spread it to others.
The study also did not specify the race of the participants or whether they had underlying conditions. Still, experts called it an important point to skip.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say,‘ Well, children aren’t susceptible, children aren’t infected. “And this is clearly not true,” Stacey Schultz-Cherry, a virologist at St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, told The Times.
“I think this is important, an important first step in understanding the role that children are playing in transmission.”
During the study, the researchers tested nasopharyngeal cotton wool while driving through test sites near Chicago between March 23 and April 27.
The results echo those of a German study, which showed that asymptomatic children had as high viral loads as adults.