Kids and Covid: What a new study found

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  • The exact role children play in the transmission of Covid-19 was unknown
  • A recent study analysed Covid-19 susceptibility in a number of Israeli households
  • Researchers found that children were only half as susceptible as adults and also less likely to infect others

A new study looked at the role children play in the spread of Covid-19 and found that children are less susceptible to Covid-19, and also less likely to spread infection.

Findings from the study, conducted in Israel, were published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.

Testing susceptibility and infectivity using computational tools

“One of the significant unanswered questions about Covid-19 epidemiology relates to the role of children in transmission,” the researchers emphasised.

“In this study, we estimate susceptibility and infectivity of children compared to those of adults using data from households.”

The researchers collected data from 637 households in Israel where all the members of the household were tested for active infection of Covid-19 using PCR tests.

Some participants underwent serology testing, which is done in order to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies – usually detectable a few weeks after infection.

Children less likely to infect or be infected

Using mathematical modelling on the data collected, the researchers estimated that individuals under the age of 20 were about half (43%) as susceptible to Covid-19 infection as adults.

Furthermore, it was suggested that children are also less likely to infect others compared to adults. 

The findings of this study may serve as an explanation as to why lower rates of infection have been observed in children worldwide.

The researchers also noted that “the role of children in the spread of Covid-19 is also affected by different contact patterns and hygienic habits outside the household [such as interaction in schools] could offset the effect of reduced susceptibility and infectivity.”

“When we began this research, understanding children's role in transmission was a top priority, in connection with the question of reopening schools,” said author Itai Dattner of the University of Haifa.

“It was exciting to work in a large, multidisciplinary team, which was assembled by the Israeli Ministry of Health, to address this topic rapidly."

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