NEW DELHI, JULY 31: A new study has claimed that young kids can spread COVID-19 as much as older children and adults, contrary to the previous findings which stressed that children are not a major source of COVID-19 transmission.
Research published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that children below the age of 5 years with mild to moderate COVID-19 have a much higher level of genetic material in the nose for the virus, as compared to older children and adults.
The lead author Taylor Heald-Sargent from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said: “We found that children under 5 with COVID-19 have a higher viral load than older children and adults, which may suggest greater transmission, as we see with a respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV,”.
To establish the outcome, the research team studied 145 cases of mild to moderate COVID-19 illness within the first week of symptom onset.
The viral load was compared amongst 3 age groups – children younger than 5 years, children 5-17 years, and adults 18-65 years.
According to the researchers, the findings of the study point to the possibility that the youngest age group of children transmit the virus as much as the other age groups.
The fact that younger children can spread COVID-19 may have been under-recognised because of the hasty and sustained shutting down of schools and daycare during the pandemic.
“This has important public health implications, especially during discussions on the safety of reopening schools and daycare,” Heald-Sargent said.
“Our study was not designed to prove that younger children spread COVID-19 as much as adults, but it is a possibility,” Heald-Sargent added.
“We need to take that into account in efforts to reduce transmission as we continue to learn more about this virus,” the study authors wrote.
Recently a study from McMaster University in Canada revealed that children below the age of 10 years are not a major source of transmission of COVID-19.
Another study published earlier this month in the journal Pediatrics stated that children rarely transmit COVID-19 to each other or to adults and schools can and should reopen in the fall while adhering to social distancing guidelines. (Courtesy: TS)