COVID-19 and Kids: Update on Child Transmission

Guest contribution from Dr. Kacey Ernst, an epidemiologist at the University of Arizona.

Additional information is being collected on the potential for children to transmit SARS-CoV-2:

Children older than one appear to be less likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19. However, this does not mean they cannot get infected. One of the current questions is how much kids can transmit the virus. There are a few new studies and outbreaks that indicate children can indeed transmit the virus fairly well: 

  • Summer camps in Georgia, Kansas and Texas, have reported many children (7-18 years old) becoming infected. These reports have not been investigated and published thoroughly, but since these are overnight camps, there is likely to be close contact between the children and transmission among the kids cannot be discounted. 
  • A study out of Korea tracked the contacts of nearly 6000 confirmed cases, including children. The study concluded that children aged between 10-19 appeared to be more likely to transmit to household contacts (moderate sample size) and those aged 0-9 years were less likely (but the sample size was quite small). Although the study had some limitations, the conclusions indicate some level of transmission from children, especially older children.

More research is needed on children’s ability to transmit SARS-CoV-2, but there is building evidence that children, especially children over the age of 10, can spread the virus more easily than was previously thought.

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