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Children Unlikely To Spread COVID-19, Studies Find

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Children are unlikely to become infected with COVID-19, or pass it on to adults.

Schools are safe to reopen in fall as children are unlikely to spread COVID-19 to each other or infect adults.

Dr Benjamin Lee and Dr William Raszka, the authors of an article called “COVID-19 Transmission and Children: The Child Is Not to Blame” urge governments to reopen schools.

Their report is based on mounting evidence that children play a minor role in the transmission of COVID-19.

Evidence show that children under 16-years-old rarely spread the coronavirus disease to others, therefore they play an insignificant part in COVID-19 outbreaks.

The reasons that children are less likely to become infected and also to be less infectious to adults or other children are not clear.

Dr William Raszka said:

“With influenza, children are well-known spreaders of the disease.

That’s been one of the major surprises, that children do not spread or transmit coronavirus as efficiently.

It’s sort of mysterious why younger children seem to be much less frequently infected and generally speaking have much less severe disease, and why they don’t transmit as often.”

However, one possibility is that children have mild symptoms such as weaker and fewer coughs consequently they release fewer infectious particles into their surroundings.

Also, they don’t appear to have prolonged conversations with adults or other children as adults tend to have.

Moreover, during the lockdown period and social distancing, children have learned to have less direct contact like hugging and touching.

All these may be reasons why children with COVID-19 are not as active in spreading the disease as much as other germs like influenza.

Dr William Raszka said:

“Generally, the younger you are, then the less likely you are to transmit to other children or adults.

With precautions, schools should reopen.”

Dr Amesh Adalja from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, commented:

“We have seen schools open in places like Denmark and Finland without a problem, and day care centers have been open for essential workers throughout the pandemic.

It will be important for schools to develop a plan for dealing with cases and allowing for social distancing, but we are causing harm to a whole generation of students who are not able to be educated adequately.”

Research on families in Switzerland found that adults spread COVID-19 and infect children.

Children pass the coronavirus to older relatives less than eight percent of the time.

Dr Arnaud L’Huillier, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Geneva University Hospitals said:

“Reopening schools does not seem to be a public health issue when compared to reopening restaurants, bars and shops.”

A study of 68 Chinese children with COVID-19 who were admitted to a hospital in China found that 96% of these children were infected by adults from their households.

The other paediatric evidence is a French study which found a boy with COVID-19 exposed to over 80 classmates but didn’t infect any of them.

In an Australian study, nine infected students were exposed to 863 students and staff at over 15 schools.

Only two people got infected with COVID-19 and one was caused by an adult who spread the disease to the child.

Dr William Raszka said:

“The data are striking.

The key takeaway is that children are not driving the pandemic.

After six months, we have a wealth of accumulating 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.”

About the author

Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.


The study was published in the journal Pediatrics (Lee & Raszka, 2020).

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