According to a study from Chicago, children under the age of five can have up to 100 times more coronavirus in their noses and throat than infected adults and older children.
“Our analyzes suggest that children under the age of 5 with mild to moderate COVID-19 virus have high levels of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in their nasopharynx compared to older children and adults,” the researchers said in a study published on Thursday by JAMA. Pediatrics. .
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“Young children may be potentially important factors in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the general population, as demonstrated by the respiratory syncytial virus, where they are more likely to be transmitted in children with a high viral load,”; they wrote.
The authors reported that although their findings did not show that children infected with COVID-19 were contagious, other pediatric studies found a correlation between the presence of higher levels of nucleic acids and the ability to cultivate the infectious virus.
The study ran from March 23 to April 27 and was led by Taylor Heald-Sargent of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. One hundred and forty-five patients were divided into three groups according to age. These groups included: 48 adults aged 18 to 65 years, 51 children aged 5 to 17 years and 46 children under 5 years.
The investigative team performed nasal swab tests on patients who developed mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 within one week. The researchers eventually found that “young children have the same viral nucleic acids in their upper airways compared to older children and adults,” the study wrote.
The authors also stated in their report that differences in the materials found in the tests revealed “10- to 100-fold greater amounts of SARS-CoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract of young children.”
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The findings contradict the previous belief that children do not play a major role in coronavirus transmission. They stated that “school closures at the beginning of pandemic reactions prevent large-scale investigations of schools as a source of community transmission.”
The findings point to the importance of understanding the transmission potential in children – especially when reopening schools.
“The behavioral habits of young children and nearby neighborhoods in school and day care facilities raise concerns in this population about the strengthening of SARS-CoV-2 as public health restrictions are eased,” they wrote. “In addition to the public health implications, this population will be important in targeting immunization efforts when SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are available.”