BOSTON — The role of children in the spread of COVID-19 has been the subject of debate for months. It’s especially a concern with back-to-school in full swing, and parents torn over virtual or in-person learning. Now, a new study seemingly confirms a potential worst case scenario regarding kids and the coronavirus. Not only are children quite capable of “silently spreading” COVID-19, they appear to be significantly more contagious than infected adults.
The study, led by doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Hospital for Children, suggests that kids likely play a much larger part in the spread of COVID-19 than originally thought.
Of the 122 children (ages 0-22 years old) included in this research, 49 tested positive for the coronavirus. Another 18 experienced late onset COVID-19 related symptoms. Kids who tested positive displayed much higher levels of the virus in their airways than even adult ICU coronavirus patients.
“I was surprised by the high levels of virus we found in children of all ages, especially in the first two days of infection,” says lead study author Dr. Lael Yonker, director of the MGH Cystic Fibrosis Center, in a release. “I was not expecting the viral load to be so high. You think of a hospital, and of all of the precautions taken to treat severely ill adults, but the viral loads of these hospitalized patients are significantly lower than a ‘healthy child’ who is walking around with a high SARS-CoV-2 viral load.”