But then can children transmit the new coronavirus?

But then can children transmit the new coronavirus?

What role do the little ones play in the spread of the new coronavirus? For now there is no answer, but new research shows that viral rna levels in the nose and throat can be 10 to 100 times higher than adults

(photo: Nicolò Campo / LightRocket via Getty Images) It has been one of the most important questions since the beginning of the pandemic. And so we still don't have a definitive explanation today. What is the relationship between children and coronavirus and what role do they play in its transmission? So far, in fact, we know that the little ones often have milder symptoms of Covid-19 and that, therefore, they are somehow spared from the virus. But today to return to the topic is a new study published in the pages of Jama Pediatrics, which has highlighted how children under five years can host in the nose and throat levels of viral rna equal and even higher than adults. A figure, therefore, which indicates for now only the possibility that the youngest ones can transmit the virus, but which should nevertheless make us reflect on the much discussed reopening of schools. "We found that children under five years of age with Covid-19 have a higher viral load than older children and adults, and this may suggest greater transmission," said research author Taylor Heald-Sargent, an infectious disease specialist. of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. "These new data have important public health implications, particularly during the debate on the safety of the reopening of schools and kindergartens."

To understand this, the researchers analysed samples collected from the swabs rinofaringeri between 23 march and 27 April last, in different areas of Chicago. The test came from 145 persons positive to the new coronavirus, including 46 children under the age of 5 years, 51 children aged 5 to 17 years and 48 adults aged 18 to 65 years. The team has included in the study only the children and adults who had mild to moderate symptoms of the infection within the first week after the onset of symptoms were excluded, thus, the asymptomatic, and the patients who had symptoms for more than a week before the buffer). From the results, the researchers observed that younger children, those under the age of 5 years, showed levels of viral rna similar or even higher (by 10 to 100 times) than adults. “Our study was not designed to demonstrate that the children are spreading the Covid-19 as much as adults, but it is a possibility, ” explains Heald-Sargent. “ We need to take into account in the strategies to reduce transmission, as we continue to learn more about this virus”.

Although the new study has some limitations, such as having involved a small sample of participants and having analyzed only the presence of viral rna (and not the infectious virus), experts stress that there are increasing evidence of the fact that small children can carry significant quantities of the new coronavirus . “I have heard many people say that children do not become infected. And this latest study clearly demonstrates that is not true,” commented the New York Times Stacey Schultz-Cherry, virologa of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. “I think this is an important first step, very important, to understand the role that children play in transmission.”

Information, then, valuable above all for the much-discussed reopening of the schools . “Now that we are at the end of July we plan to reopen the schools in short, these results should really be taken into consideration”, adds Jason Kindrachuk , virologist at the University of Manitoba. “I suspect that probably this evidence will result in the fact that there is also the virus, but we cannot say without seeing the data,” said Juliet Morrison , virologa at the University of California, Riverside. “We will re-open nursery and primary schools”. But if these results were to be confirmed, “then yeah, I'd be worried.

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