New York: Taking a cue from recent studies that examine Covid-19 transmission by and among children, researchers say that children infrequently transmit Covid-19 to each other or to adults and schools can and should reopen in the fall while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
The authors of the commentary published in the journal Pediatrics based their conclusions on a new study published in the current issue of Pediatrics and four other recent studies on kids and Covid-19 transmission.
“The data are striking. The key takeaway is that children are not driving the pandemic,” said William V Raszka, pediatric infectious disease specialist at University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine.
“After six months, we have a wealth of accumulated data, showing that children are less likely to become infected and seem less infectious; it is congregating adults who aren’t following safety protocols who are responsible for driving the upward curve,” Raszka added.
In the new Pediatrics study, Klara M Posfay-Barbe, a faculty member at University of Geneva’s medical school, and her colleagues studied the households of 39 Swiss children infected with Covid-19.
Contact tracing revealed that in only three (8 per cent) was a child the suspected index case, with symptom onset preceding illness in adult household contacts.
In a recent study in China, contact tracing demonstrated that of the 68 children with Covid-19 admitted to Qingdao Women’s and Children’s Hospital, 96 per cent were household contacts of previously infected adults.
In another study of Chinese children, nine of 10 children admitted to several provincial hospitals outside Wuhan contracted Covid-19 from an adult, with only one possible child-to-child transmission, based on the timing of disease onset.
In a French study, a boy with Covid-19 exposed over 80 classmates at three schools to the disease. None contracted it.
In another study in New South Wales, nine infected students and nine staff across 15 schools exposed a total of 735 students and 128 staff to Covid-19. Only two secondary infections resulted, one transmitted by an adult to a child.
“Additional support for the notion that children are not significant vectors of the disease comes from mathematical modeling,” said the authors including Benjamin Lee.
Schools have reopened in many Western European countries and in Japan without seeing a rise in community transmissions.
Rising cases among adults and children in Texas childcare facilities, however, have the potential to be misinterpreted. “While we don’t yet know the dynamics of the outbreak, it is unlikely that infants and children in daycare are driving the surge,” Dr Raszka said.
Reopening schools in a safe manner this fall is important for the healthy development of children.
“By doing so, we could minimise the potentially profound adverse social, developmental, and health costs that our children will continue to suffer until an effective treatment or vaccine can be developed and distributed, or failing that, until we reach herd immunity,” the authors wrote.