TAMPA, Fla. — It's one of the most comprehensive studies looking at kids and COVID-19 to date. Researchers from Harvard and Mass General Hospital in Boston looked at people under the age of 22, measuring the amount of COVID-19 virus in their bodies.
“Younger kids do have the virus and maybe even at a great number and that can mean they may have the ability to transmit it just as well,” said Dr. Allison Messina, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, reacting after reading the study Thursday.
The study of nearly 200 young people compared children and teens, in many cases showing no symptoms, to very sick adults in the hospital. Researchers were surprised to discover the children had in many cases higher viral loads than those hospitalized.
“The issue of viral load in children being high when they're asymptomatic is very important,” Dr. Messina. “I think, if anything, this should convince people that everyone needs to be wearing a mask because you just never know.”
The results mirror a previous study in the Journal "Pediatrics" from the American Medical Association which reported, when compared to adults, young children infected with COVID-19 had between 10 and 100 times more virus in their nose and throat.
That information leads some doctors to conclude children could potentially initiate super-spreader events in re-opened schools.
Dr. Messina from All Children’s says parents should assume their children could be infected.
“Even for mild symptoms, even for a little bit of cough, a little bit of runny nose, maybe things that parents would normally wouldn't keep their kids out of school for, we're really asking for them to keep them out this time and get them tested.”
“They can act as hosts,” said USF Health’s Dr. Jay Wolfson who 10 Tampa Bay interviewed earlier this month after the first study's release.
“It creates a very challenging issue as we move into the school year to ensure that they are protected, the teachers and staff are protected from each other, and the parents are protected when they go back home.”
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