While they have been seemingly protected from the worst outbreaks of the pandemic for most of it, nowadays, kids are facing some newly discovered COVID-19 risks!
In fact, according to a brand new study published yesterday, children are just as likely as adults to contract the virus.
The only difference is that they are less likely to be symptomatic, which is both good and bad news!
After all, they are mostly safe when it comes to their own health but that also means they can unknowingly spread COVID-19 to more vulnerable people which is why it is indicated for the young ones to also follow the safety rules put in place.
The research was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics and focused on children and adults residing in Utah and New York City.
As mentioned before, the results showed that both categories of the population shared very similar risks of testing positive for COVID-19, the significant difference being that kids only presented symptoms in around half the time.
Pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Texas Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Flor Munoz, wrote in an accompanying editorial that “The study demonstrates that all along, children of all ages including infants and toddlers have had a similar risk of SARS- CoV-2 infection compared with adults. The fact that kids, and especially young kids, can transmit SARS-CoV-2 is now established and more clearly understood.”
Munoz, who was not directly involved in the study, added that the conclusions should be taken into consideration as far as the pandemic control efforts are concerned but also when it comes to vaccination and therapeutics research.
The study was also published only a day after Pfizer and BioNTech requested an emergency authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration to use their vaccine in children between the ages of 5 and 11, but in smaller doses.
The research was conducted between September of 2020 and April of 2021 and features data on 1,236 people from 310 separate households in New York City and some counties from Utah, that included at least one child.
Dr. Fatimah Dawood from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and her colleagues investigated the incidence of Covid-19 within those households that had one or more people infected and found that the infection risk within those households was 52%.
This is evidence that households are still one of the most common places of spreading the virus.
Of course, the next step was to analyze the incidence by age group and the rates to 1,000 people per week were very similar all across the board, no matter the age.
More precisely, they were: 6.3 for children under 4 years old; 4.4 for children of ages between 5 and 11; 6.0 for those aged 12 to 17; and finally, 5.1 for adults.
They went on to write that “our findings suggest that children and adults have similar incidence rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection, underscoring the need for rapid evaluation of vaccine efficacy and safety in children to expand vaccine indications to younger age groups.”
The researchers also went on to analyze how many people had no symptoms in those age groups and they realized that the percentages of asymptomatic infection were the following: 52% of kids under 4; 50% of those aged 5 to 11; 45% of kids between the ages of 12 and 17; and only 12% of adults.
The study says that: “Adults and children of all ages had similar risks of SARS-CoV-2 infection, but approximately half of SARS-CoV-2 infections among children were asymptomatic compared with a much smaller fraction among adults.”
To be noted that the researchers mentioned some symptoms could have been misses since the kids themselves were not asked and instead, their adult caregivers gave out all the details regarding the young ones’ health.
Munoz wrote in her editorial that it is vital that kids’ role in spreading the more common viral infections should be taken into consideration in the case of COVID-19 as well since they are definitely similar.
“If lessons are to be learned from our collective experience and if we agree to acknowledge the role of children in the transmission of respiratory viral infections, then pediatric populations, from infants to adolescents, must be included in pandemic preparedness, disease burden assessment, timely vaccine and therapeutics research, and strategies and policies for the control of outbreaks and pandemics from day 1 without delay.”