Two new studies have revealed evidence that even though fewer children suffer serious complications from coronavirus infections, they can pass the virus on to adults.
Epidemiologists who were not involved in the research told The New York Times for a Tuesday report that while the studies did not prove children could pass the virus to adults, the evidence was compelling enough to suggest that schools remain closed for now.
In one of the studies, published in the journal Science last week, data was analyzed from Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus first emerged and in Shanghai, determining that children were around one-third as susceptible to the virus as adults, but had three times as many chances of infection, which evened out the chances between the two groups.
The researchers determined that closing schools, however, was not enough to stop an outbreak, but could reduce a disease surge by about 40% to 60%.
“My simulation shows that yes if you reopen the schools, you’ll see a big increase in the reproduction number, which is exactly what you don’t want,” Marco Ajelli, a mathematical epidemiologist who did the work while at the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Trento, Italy, said.
Meanwhile, in a German study, researchers tested children and adults and found that children testing positive carried a virus load equal to that of adults, or maybe even more, but were more likely to be asymptomatic.
Neither study was conclusive but offered evidence that children can be carriers of adult-like levels of coronavirus, and can spread it to others, even if they are not showing any outward symptoms.
“Are any of these studies definitive? The answer is ‘No, of course not,’” Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University who was not involved in either study commented. However, opening schools "because of some uninvestigated notion that children aren’t really involved in this, that would be a very foolish thing.”
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