Children Under 5 Years Are 10- 100 Times More Vulnerable To COVID

Mario Tama  Getty Images Coronavirus testing at a mobile clinic at the Walker Temple A.M.E. Church in south Los Angeles earlier this month

Out of 145 patients, 46 were young children (age less than 5 years), 51 children (age between 5 to 17) and 48 were adults aged between 18 to 65.

Its authors wrote this meant that young children might be important drivers of Covid-19 transmission within communities - a suggestion at odds with the current prevailing narrative.

Heald-Sargent first became interested in the question of how COVID-19 affects children after receiving some unusual test results-children's swab samples were indicating a higher load of virus than adults, a counterintuitive observation given that kids appear far less likely to develop symptoms.

The study notes that it is possible these abnormal CMR findings were present prior to COVID-19 infection, however, it is also likely that the viral infection amplified any pre-existing cardiovascular damage.

Heald-Sargent, who has young children of her own, dismissed the latter idea.

Older children and adults had similar amounts of the virus' genetic material in their noses, the study found, while kids under 5 years old had anywhere between 10 to 100 times more virus in their upper respiratory tract than adults and older children.

Between March 23 and April 27, 2020, a research team from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital and Northwestern University tested swab collections from inpatient, outpatient, emergency department, and drive-through testing sites in Chicago, Illinois.

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The researchers found that young children had average viral loads 10 to 100 times greater than adults.

Even though researchers did not measure the transmissibility of the pandemic, this new finding raises many questions, especially at a time when schools start reopening.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an outlier, calling for in-person classes in the fall, issuing a statement that says 'schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being'. Hence, they had fewer opportunities to transmit.

Traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, were found in heart tissue of more than 60 percent of the subjects. It has also previously been shown that children with high viral loads of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are more likely to spread the disease.

Women and higher-income earners are more likely to be in occupations that could be done from home, and among parents who can work from home, mothers reduced their work hours more than fathers, particularly mothers of primary school-aged children.

However, the study was conducted on a small sample and states that these findings indicate the need for the ongoing investigation of the long-term cardiovascular consequences of COVID-19. Also, younger children have behavioral habits that may increase the risk of transmission, such as playing with other kids in school. In addition to public health implications, children are essential for targeting vaccine efforts when they become available.

It remains a mystery why kids haven't been shown to be as infectious as adults when it comes to COVID-19, Adalja said.

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