It’s still unclear to what extent children may spread the coronavirus, but a new study suggests it is possible they can transmit it as easily as infected adults, Swiss researchers reported Tuesday.
Fewer children than adults contract Covid-19, fewer develop severe forms of the illness and they don’t seem to be “major drivers of transmission,” but children of all ages have been infected, researchers said.
“Despite the high proportion of mild or asymptomatic infections, they should be considered as transmitters unless proven otherwise,” researchers from the Geneva University Hospitals and theGeneva University Hospitals concluded.
In the survey, 23 children ranging in age from 7 days old to 16 tested positive for Covid-19 and all but two carried the same amount of virus as adults.
“Our data show that viral load at diagnosis is comparable to that of adults and that symptomatic children of all ages shed infectious virus in early acute illness, a prerequisite for further transmission,” the authors wrote.
However, children do not seem to spread the virus in the same way adults do.
“Considering the relatively low frequency of infected children, even in severely affected areas, biological or other unknown factors could lead to the lower transmission in this population,” the authors surmised.
They said more research is need to fully understand the role of children in spreading the virus.
The study had some limitations, including its small size and the use of virus samples left over from routine diagnostic tests.
The research was published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.