With governments around the globe itching to end lockdown and reopen schools, one question has emerged: can children transmit the coronavirus? Studies worldwide have examined whether kids are less likely to spread the disease, with results causing some confusion in the public. Here’s a rundown of what experts are saying about kids spreading COVID-19.
A report by the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) examined 78 studies on the coronavirus. It concluded that children were less susceptible to serious symptoms of the disease. “COVID-19 appears to affect children less often, and with less severity, including frequent asymptomatic or subclinical infection,” the report read. “The role of children in transmission is unclear, but it seems likely they do not play a significant role in infection.”
While these statements led some to conclude that children don’t transmit coronavirus in significant numbers, researchers involved with the report have debunked this interpretation.
“Children almost certainly DO transmit COVID-19,” Alasdair Munro, a researcher who helped author the report, tweeted on April 30. He went on to say that statements in the report suggesting that no children had transmitted the disease came from a flawed study.
The RCPCH joined in, tweeting that “a number of media reports, citing RCPCH, have incorrectly suggested that children cannot transmit COVID-19. This is not the RCPCH position, nor is it based on evidence.”
More Evidence Children Can Transmit
Meanwhile, other studies have suggested that children are just as likely as adults to transmit the coronavirus. German virologist Christian Drosten released a report this week detailing a study he did on the subject. According to The Guardian, Drosten examined viral loads in the throats 3,721 people who had tested positive for coronavirus. Reportedly, this number included over 100 children.
“The end result is as clear as glass,” Drosten announced on his podcast dedicated to coronavirus updates. “Children do not have significantly different concentrations of the virus in their respiratory passages compared to adults.”
The results of Drosten’s study has led him to recommend against hasty reopenings of schools. “Based on these results, we have to caution against an unlimited reopening of schools and kindergartens in the present situation,” his report said, per Reuters. “Children may be as infectious as adults.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has echoed this sentiment. At a press conference on April 29, WHO technical lead Maria van Kerkhove said, “There’s no reason to think that children are less susceptible to infection if they’re exposed, and that they can’t transmit. We’re really not seeing this in the epidemiology.”