Older Kids May Transmit COVID-19 as Much as Adults Do, New Evidence Shows Part 2
The results also showed up something unexpected, however. When index patients were categorised by age (0–9, 10–19, 20–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79, and >80 years), households with older children (index patients of 10–19 years) had the highest rate of infection spread to household contacts, with 18.6 percent of household contacts later showing the infection.
By contrast, young children (index patients 0–9 years of age) seemed to confer the least amount of spread of the virus, with just 5.3 percent of household contacts contracting the infection, which is less than half of the 11.8 percent average of all age groups (most of whom represent adults).
The researchers acknowledge several limitations in their study, including asymptomatic patients that may have been missed, and data shortcomings due to testing differences between households and patients. Also, the study doesn't tell us how contacts actually got infected, as household contacts might have been exposed to the virus outside their homes.
Nonetheless, it's a great reminder that children from birth to 18 years of age occupy very different bodies and demonstrate very different behaviours.
If health and virus mitigation policies up until this point have lumped together all those individuals on the basis that they're minors, we might need to do some rethinking on that front – particularly as more information comes to hand from large-scale studies such as this.
"I fear that there has been this sense that kids just won't get infected or don't get infected in the same way as adults and that, therefore, they're almost like a bubbled population," infectious diseases researcher Michael Osterholm from the University of Minnesota, who wasn't involved with the study, told The New York Times.
"There will be transmission. What we have to do is accept that now and include that in our plans."
The early release findings are reported in Emerging Infectious Diseases.