COVID-19 in children: Studies show kids may carry higher viral load, act as superspreaders
Recent research articles in different journals have claimed that children and infants with COVID-19 infection have a much higher viral load compared to adults.
Doctors have made it clear to the public that people with comorbidities and elderly people are at an increased risk of developing severe COVID-19. This also implies that they can carry a higher infection load as compared to other people with the same disease. However, recent research articles in different journals have claimed that children and infants with COVID-19 infection have a much higher viral load compared to adults.
Children may not show symptoms but they can have a high viral load
A study, conducted by the researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Hospital for Children, included 192 children who were in the age group 0 to 22 years, out of which 49 children tested positive for COVID-19 and 18 children were diagnosed with late-onset COVID-19-related illness.
The study was published in the Journal of Pediatrics on 19 August 2020 and showed that younger children were less likely to get seriously infected with the virus but their viral load was immensely high. Instead, the scientists found that despite having less number of viral receptors in the body, younger children had a higher viral load in their nose and mouth, therefore, they were more contagious than adults who were hospitalised for COVID-19 treatment.
Children under the age of 5 years have 100 times more virus than adults
Another study was conducted by the researchers of the Ann and Robert H Lurie Children's Hospital on 145 Chicago patients who were admitted to the hospital with mild to moderate disease between 23 March 2020 and 27 April 2020. The participants of the study were divided into three groups based on their age; 46 children who were five years old or younger, 51 children aged between five and 17, and 48 adults aged 18 to 65 years. The sample results of all the patients showed that more viral genetic material was found in children under the age of five.
The study was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics on 30 July 2020 and concluded that children at or under the age of five with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms carry 10 to 100 times more of the virus in their nose and throat than older children and adults.
Infected children need vigilant monitoring
With all these studies, scientists conclude that children should be kept under vigilant monitoring until their infection clears up completely. They further recommended that schools should not be opened without necessary precautions or else it would spread the disease on a massive scale as children are not immune to this disease.
For more information, read our article on COVID-19 and children.
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