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Researchers find no evidence of young children passing the coronavirus to adults in contact tracing review


Were school and day care closings necessary?

Children of medical staff members leave the Eugene Napoleon Saint-Pierre Fourier private school Thursday in Paris during the strict lockdown in France to stop the spread of COVID-19. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Pediatric experts in the United Kingdom studying the impact of COVID-19 on children found no evidence that children can pass the virus on to adults, a finding which could significantly impact decisions about reopening schools and child care facilities, The Age reported.

What did they find? A review of contact tracing data led by Dr. Alasdair Munro with the help of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health found no cases in which a child under the age of 10 transmitted the novel coronavirus.

This finding adds on to the existing belief among public health experts that children are less likely to suffer serious illness when they get COVID-19.

"COVID-19 appears to affect children less often, and with less severity, including frequent asymptomatic or subclinical infection. There is evidence of critical illness, but it is rare," the research concluded. "The role of children in transmission is unclear, but it seems likely they do not play a significant role."

In one example, a 9-year-old boy who had COVID-19 came into contact with more than 170 people, and didn't pass the virus on to any of them — despite also having the cold and the flu, and passing those illnesses to his siblings.

Open the schools? This information is leading some officials to reconsider whether, or how long, schools need to be closed if there is low risk of serious illness among children, and low risk that those children can pass the coronavirus to adult teachers or staff members. From The Age:

Kostas Danis, an epidemiologist at Public Health France who carried out that study, said the fact that children developed a milder form of the diseases may explain why they did not transmit the virus.

While he said that it was possible children could infect others, there had not been a case to date and there was "no evidence that closing schools is an effective measure". Further evidence from China showed when families had contracted the virus, children were "unlikely to be the index case".

Although the findings are encouraging, researchers cautioned that more study and evidence is needed on this issue to make the conclusions more certain.

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