Children are super spreaders of Covid-19, new study reveals

Children are key to the spread of Covid-19, a study shows.

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What you need to know:

  • The research reported children are “potentially much more important to transmitting the virus, especially within households, than previous studies have identified.”
  • Scientists traced infection pathways and mortality of 575,071 who had been exposed to Covid-19 from 84,965 confirmed cases in India.

Children are key to the spread of coronavirus even though they are believed to be less affected by Covid-19.

A study of more than half a million people exposed to the virus in India established that the role of children in the transmission of the disease may have been underestimated. 

The research published on the journal Science reported children are “potentially much more important to transmitting the virus, especially within households, than previous studies have identified.”

“Kids are very efficient transmitters in this setting (household), which is something that hasn’t been firmly established in previous studies,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, the lead researcher.

Scientists from Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Berkeley, traced infection pathways and mortality of 575,071 who had been exposed to Covid-19 from 84,965 confirmed cases in India.

They found that reported cases of Covid-19 and deaths have been more concentrated in younger people in India than they expected, basing their observation on higher-income countries.

A different study published earlier in the year found that “children were as likely to be infected as adults despite presenting with symptoms less frequently.”

The study in India found children aged 0-14 years, and youth are more likely to catch the virus from their age mates.

But, even in other age groups people were more likely to contract the virus from those of similar age. It was riskier among adults of 65 years or above, the research found out.

The research demonstrated that Covid-19 is mainly being transmitted by “super spreaders”.

The researchers found that 70.7 per cent of infected individuals did not infect any of their contacts, while only eight per cent of infected individuals accounted for 60 per cent of the new infections.

They found that the chances of a sick person transmitting the virus to a close contact ranged from 2.6 per cent in the community to nine per cent in the household.

“Super spreading events are the rule rather than the exception when one is looking at the spread of Covid-19, both in India and likely in all affected places. Our study presents the largest empirical demonstration of super spreading that we are aware of in any infectious disease,” Mr Laxminarayan said.

With Kenyan schools open for learning after more than six months of closure, the Ministry of Health has advised teachers to enforce health protocols to ensure the disease does not spread.


bmutanu@ke.nationmedia.com