Children likely play role in coronavirus spread, 2 new studies suggest

Though fewer children appear to get infected with the new coronavirus, and those who do tend to have less severe cases of the illness than adults, they may play a role in transmitting the virus, according to new research, The New York Times reports.

The first study, published in the journal Science, examined contact survey data in Wuhan and Shanghai in China, before and during the outbreak, as well as contact-tracing information for China's Hunan province. They found that though children were about a third as susceptible to the new coronavirus as adults, children had about three times as many contacts as adults when schools were open. Children were also had about three times the opportunity to become infected as adults when schools were open.

The second study, from researchers in Germany, screened 59,831 patients for COVID-19 infection. The study found that more adults were infected with the virus than children, but the children who contracted the new coronavirus had viral loads equal to or higher than the viral loads of adults — indicating they may be just as infectious as adults. Children who did not show symptoms also had viral loads that were as high or higher than children showing symptoms or adults.

The studies offer evidence that children can carry and transmit the disease, which suggests that schools in the U.S. should remain closed for now, several epidemiologists told the Times.



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