Children spread the coronavirus 'six times less than adults'

Children don't spread the virus like teachers do

A Public Health England analysis found 70 children out of 1.6million who had returned to school in June tested positive for Covid-19. 

Another 128 members of staff tested positive. And only 30 outbreaks were confirmed at 23,400 reopened schools (0.01 per cent).

The analysis, published on August 23, said the majority of cases linked to outbreaks were in staff, but they were not more likely to get the coronavirus than the general population.

PHE said: .Where children did contract the infection, they were most likely to catch COVID-19 at home, usually from a parent. Half the outbreaks did not involve any students at all and transmission between students was very rare. 

'The probable source in 20 of the 30 outbreaks was staff-to-staff or staff-to-student transmission. Student-to-staff transmission was the likely source in 6 cases, and student-to-student in 2. The transmission source could not be established in two outbreaks.' 

It warned that school staff needed to be 'more vigilant for exposure outside the school setting to protect themselves, their families and the educational setting'.

Dr Shamez Ladhani, paediatric infectious diseases specialist at PHE, who headed the monitoring of England's schools, told The Times: 'We need to educate the educators.

'There's a clear need for a duty of care outside the school setting so staff need to protect themselves, and in turn other staff and pupils.'

He added: 'Staff are very good at social distancing and infection control in the classroom, but upon leaving the school environment these measures are more likely to be broken, potentially putting themselves and their colleagues at risk.'  

Schools are 'minor players' in the overall transmission of coronavirus

Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said schools are 'minor players' in the transmission of coronavirus, and 'we owe it to our children' to re-open schools.

He said parents should be 'reassured' by growing evidence from countries including Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands, which shows 'little significant transmission in schools'.

Professor Viner, who also sits on the Government's Scientific Advisory Group, said returning to school was likely to 'add little' to the reproduction rate of infection, but that reopening schools is one of the 'least risky things we can do'.  

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on August 10: 'There's always dangers with evidence but I think the evidence from around the world is starting to become convincing that for younger children, particularly primary school children, that they appear to be less likely to catch this virus, and they don't play a big role in transmitting it.'  

Professor Viner highlighted the 'higher rates of some concerning conditions', observed in children's absence from school, including obesity.

Schoolchildren 'do not spread the virus as much as staff do'

Research in Australia – one of the only countries to keep its schools open during the pandemic – found that children do not transit the coronavirus to other people as much as staff do, suggesting adults are more capable of spreading the disease.

The team led by Professor Kristine Macartney identified all staff and children who attended a school or nursery in the Australian state of New South Wales while they had Covid-19.

Overall, 12 children and 15 adults were found to have attended schools or nurseries while infectious between 25 January to 10 April, when term ended.

All adults or the parents of children were interviewed at diagnosis to track who the cases had been in contact with during the time that they were infectious.

The team showed that, of the 633 close contacts who were tested following symptoms, 18 were found to have Covid-19.

Further analysis of a subset of schools showed the transmission rate between staff (4.4 per cent) was much higher than between children (0.3 per cent), suggesting children do not spread the virus as much as adults.

The attack rate from child to staff was one per cent for child-to-staff, compared to 1.5 per cent the other way around, according to the findings published in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health on August 3.

The researchers, led by Professor Kristine Macartney also said the transmission rates may have been higher in areas where contact tracing systems and testing were not as rigorous.

An Australian study found the transmission rate between staff (4.4 per cent) was much higher than between children (0.3 per cent), suggesting children do not spread the virus as much as adults

An Australian study found the transmission rate between staff (4.4 per cent) was much higher than between children (0.3 per cent), suggesting children do not spread the virus as much as adults

Teenagers 'spread the coronavirus as much as adults do'

A South Korean study found children under 10 transmitted less often to adults while those between the ages of 10 and 19 spread the virus as well as adults do.

The researchers at Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at 5,706 infected people and studies their 59,073 contacts for around nine days to see who was later diagnosed.

They detected Covid-19 in 11.8 per cent of household contacts, and rates were higher for contacts of children than adults. 

Households with the older children had the highest rate of spread to other members—18.6 per cent— of any age group.

Only those in their 70s had an attack rate as high (18 per cent), followed by those in their 50s (17 per cent) and their 40s (11.8 per cent). 

Households with younger children had the least spread, just 5.3 per cent, according to the findings which will be published in the autumn edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases.   

Outside of the home, teenagers didn't pose as much threat, with 0.9 per cent of their contacts testing positive compared with 4.8 per cent in the 70 to 79 age bracket. 

The authors wrote: 'Young children may show higher attack rates when the school closure ends, contributing to community transmission of Covid-19.'

A study in South Korea found those aged 10-19 passed the coronavirus on to 18.6 per cent of their household contacts, and 0.9 per cent of their contact outside the home

A study in South Korea found those aged 10-19 passed the coronavirus on to 18.6 per cent of their household contacts, and 0.9 per cent of their contact outside the home

Children without symptoms 'may spread the disease more'

Independent SAGE ⁠— a group of experts set up with of providing 'robust, independent advice' to the UK Government during Covid-19 — has previously warned that children could spread coronavirus simply because they are not detected as a case. 

Children may be just as likely to catch the coronavirus as adults but don't seem to be diagnosed often.

This is for two reasons ⁠— children to do not show the typical symptoms that adults to, if at all, and testing was only expanded to children in May. 

A report from Independent SAGE published in May, which discussed whether schools should re-open on June 1, said: 'Studies have shown that between one per cent and five per cent of diagnosed Covid-19 cases are in children, but many children may be undiagnosed because up to a third of infected children never develop any symptoms (Ludvigsson, 2020).  

'Current UK data suggest that they are as likely as adults to become infected and carry the virus but they may be less likely than adults to transmit the virus because, for instance, adults are contagious for longer than children.

'However, the impact of placing many children in one place could lead schools to become 'institutional amplifiers' if asymptomatic children go unnoticed until an adult becomes symptomatic.'  

Children's viral loads are up to 100 times higher than adults', making them more infectious 

Children under five years old can transmit the novel coronavirus just as easily as older kids can, a study in July claimed.

Researchers from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago collected nasopharyngeal swabs from children at a paediatric tertiary medical center in Chicago.

They looked at 145 patients who developed to moderate illness within one week of experiencing symptoms, according to the findings published in JAMA Pediatric.

Three groups were compared: children younger than age five, children between ages five and 17 years and adults from ages 18 to 65.

The findings shows that although children kindergarten-age or younger only have mild illness, they had viral loads between 10-fold and 100-fold greater amount in their upper respiratory tract.

'We found that children under five with Covid-19 have a higher viral load than older children and adults, which may suggest greater transmission, as we see with respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV,' said lead author Dr Taylor Heald-Sargent, a paediatric infectious diseases specialist at Lurie Children's.

'Our study was not designed to prove that younger children spread Covid-19 as much as adults, but it is a possibility.'

This implies that young children can spread the virus just as easily as teenagers, despite only developing a mild illness

This implies that young children can spread the virus just as easily as teenagers, despite only developing a mild illness

The findings were backed by another study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics on August 20, which found youngsters carried large amounts of the coronavirus in their nose, which scientists say may suggest they have an increased ability to transmit the virus to others. 

Infected children with mild symptoms even had bigger viral loads than adults who had been hospitalised by the life-threatening disease. 

Having a high viral load — the number of particles of the virus someone is infected with — may make people more contagious, evidence suggests. It can also give the bug a 'jump start'.

Yet children carrying the virus often show show none of the tell-tale

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