Children under the age of five have 10 to 100 times higher levels of coronary virus genetic material in their nostrils compared to older children and adults, a study in JAMA Pediatrics said Thursday.
Its authors wrote that this meant that young children could be important drivers of COVID-19 transmission within communities – a suggestion that goes against the current current narrative.
The paper comes as US President Donald Trump’s administration is pushing hard for schools and day care to reopen in order to fix the economy.
Between March 23 and April 27, the researchers performed nasal swab tests on 145 Chicago patients with mild to moderate illness within a week of the onset of symptoms.
Patients were divided into three groups: 46 children under the age of five, 51children between the ages of five and 17, and 48 adults between the ages of 18 and 65.
The team, led by Taylor Heald-Sargent of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, observed “an amount greater than 10 to 100 times greater than SARS-CoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract of the young children. “
The authors added that a recent laboratory study showed that the more viral genetic material there is, the more the infectious virus can be spread.
It has already been shown that children with a high viral load of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are more likely to spread the disease.
“Thus, young children could potentially be important drivers of SARS-CoV-2 widespread in the general population,” the authors wrote.
“Behavioral habits of young children and close quarters in schools and in everyday care settings raise concerns about SARS-CoV-2 amplification in this population because public health will be alleviated, “they concluded.
The new findings are contrary to the current view among health authorities that young children – who, as has been well established, are much less likely to become seriously ill with the virus – do not spread it too widely to others.
However, so far there has been little research on the subject.
A recent study in South Korea found that children between the ages of 10 and 19 transmitted COVID-19 in families as large as adults, but children under the age of nine transmitted the virus at lower rates.
© Agence France-Presse