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Can Children Spread Covid-19?


Until recently, it was widely believed that children are not strong spreaders. Recent studies, however, have suggested that the chances children may spread the novel coronavirus are least as much as adults. We look at three such studies-and forth with contrary findings: A study in the US, published last week in JAMA Pediatrics, assessed levels of virus genetic material in the nose, among 145 cases of mild to moderate Covid-19 within the first week of symptom onset. The viral load was compared in free age groups – children under Children aged 5-17, and adults. “Virus levels were much higher in children under 5 compared to the other two groups. The findings point to the possibility that the youngest children transmit the virus much faster than the other age groups”, the Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago said in a statement.

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Representative Image [Credit: Medium.com]
While this study looked at viral load, the following two were based on contact tracing. Some news outlets are saying things like: “Children are only half as likely to get infected.” I think that’s a highly misleading claim based on bad methodologies, like selective testing. There have been several seroprevalence studies that are based on testing everyone in the community at random. And many of these studies said that children are just as likely to get infected, if not even more, as adults.

Another study confirmed that 1-4-year-olds, 5-9-year-olds, and 10-14-year-olds are all, in fact, more infected than adults.
Now, news outlets are saying that maybe children can’t infect anyone. Why would these children not be able to infect people? Earlier they were saying children can’t even get infected, or were questioning whether they can. It seems the only reason these questions are being asked is to push in favour of narratives like reopening schools and get people to accept them being open until “results arrive” (which may be in months or never due to their extremely strict and biased interpretation of evidence).

Now, adding to this, the following facts must be taken into account: The class size of 20 children means, according to a study, that the class will have, as a group been in contact with 800 people by the second day, 15,000 people by the third day, and so on. The potential for infections is massive. And while masks and distancing heavily-reduced infections, there’s still huge infection potential even with the precautions. The virus can spread up to 26 feet, even though there’s a considerable reduction in risk after 6 feet and a large reduction after 9 feet. Moreover, it’s airborne and stays in the air for around 15 minutes, spreading through just breathing or talking. All this has been suggested by the UN. And I believe the only solution is to keep schools closed unless full safety can be guaranteed for children, teachers, and the community at large. And necessary measures must be taken to ensure that closure.



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