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New Study Shows Kids Are COVID Spreaders, Too

THURSDAY, July 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Children with COVID-19 carry as much or more coronavirus in their nose as adults, suggesting that they could pose a serious infection risk if schools and day care centers reopen, a new study argues.

Coronavirus testing performed in Chicago in March and April shows that children and teens tend to have as much virus in their nasal passages as adults, according to a research letter published online July 30 in JAMA Pediatrics.
In fact, children younger than 5 carried the highest viral loads, the researchers reported.
“It’s concerning the youngest individuals were the ones with the highest amount of virus,” said lead researcher Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. “They are not always the ones who are washing their hands or wearing their masks.”
The findings call into question earlier epidemiological studies seemingly showing that children do not tend to spread the novel coronavirus between themselves or regularly infect adults.
Based on those studies, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention argued last week for the reopening of the nation’s schools.
“Some of the arguments that have been made in regard to schools and day cares opening is that perhaps children are unable to make the virus as efficiently in their nose, and that’s why they’re not as sick,” Heald-Sargent said. “This data would argue against that. They are able to sustain replication, the same amount as older individuals, if not more.”
For this study, Heald-Sargent and her colleagues took a look back at nasal samples taken from 145 patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
The researchers found that young children had average viral loads 10 to 100 times greater than adults.
“Kids certainly have virus and are replicating virus in their nose as efficiently, if not more efficiently, than adults,” Heald-Sargent said. “It would be logical they can also spread the virus or transmit the virus.”
However, that infection risk simply hasn’t been demonstrated in real-world epidemiological studies, counters Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in Baltimore.

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