Infected children younger than 5 years old can carry up to 100 times more coronavirus in their noses and mouths than adults – while older children carry at least as much as adults, according to new research.
This despite showing mild symptoms, the study was found, published Thursday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Scientists looked at swab samples from 95 children, most of whom reported a low-grade fever or cough, in the agoikago area. The study does not prove that infected children are contagious, however, the authors believe that should be taken into account in the debate on reopening schools.
“The school situation is so complicated – there are many nuances beyond the scientific one,”; said Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, an infectious disease expert at Ann Children’s Hospital, and Robert H. Lurie, who led the study, told the New York Times.
“But one intervention from this is that we can not assume that just because children do not get sick, or are very sick, that they do not have the virus.”
Heald-Sargent added, “It would not be surprising if [kids] were able to “shed” the virus and spread it to others.
The study also did not specify the race of participants or whether they had basic conditions. However, experts called it an important jump point.
“I’m heard a lot of people say, ‘Well, kids are not prone, kids are not infected.’ And that clearly shows that ‘s not true,” said Stacey Schultz-Cherry, a virologist at St. Jude for Times.
“I think this is a really important first step in understanding the role that children are playing in broadcasting.”
During the study, researchers tested nasopharyngeal swabs returned to test sites near Chicago between March 23 and April 27.
The results echoed those of a German study, which showed that asymptomatic children had viral loads as high as adults.