Children under the age of five have 10 to 100 times higher levels of coronavirus genetic material in their noses compared to older children and adults, a study in JAMA Pediatrics he said Thursday.
Its authors wrote that it meant that young children could be important drivers of COVID-19 transmission to communities, a suggestion contrary to the current narrative.
The article comes as the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump puts strong pressure on schools and daycare to reopen in order to start the economy.
Between March 23 and April 27, researchers conducted nasal tampon tests on 145 Chicago patients with mild to moderate illness within a week of the onset of symptoms.
Patients were divided into three groups: 46 children under five, 51children aged five to 17 years, and 48 adults aged 18 to 65 years.
The team, led by Taylor Heald-Sargent of Ann Hospital and Robert H. Lurie, observed “a 10 to 100-fold greater amount of SARS-CoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract of young children. “.
The authors added that a recent laboratory study had shown that the more viral genetic material there was, the more infectious viruses could be cultured.
It has also been shown previously that children with high viral loads of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are more likely to spread the disease.
“Thus, young children can be important drivers of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the general population,” the authors wrote.
“Behavioral habits of young children and nearby quarters in schools and daycare arouse concern about SARS-CoV-2 amplification in this population as public health restrictions are reduced,” they concluded.
The new findings are at odds with current opinions among health authorities that young children, who, as has been well established, are much less likely to fall seriously ill with the virus, do not spread it much to others either.
However, so far there has been enough research on the subject.
A recent study in South Korea found that children aged 10 to 19 transmitted COVID-19 in households as much as adults, but children under the age of nine transmitted the virus at lower rates.
© Agence France-Presse