• Joe Xie

New Study on Children and COVID-19 Spread

A recent study by Yonker et. al. from Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, published on August 19, 2020, has demonstrated that children may be ideal silent spreaders of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

To quote the study:

"A total of 192 children (mean age 10.2 +/- 7 years) were enrolled. Forty-nine children (26%) were diagnosed with acute SARS-CoV-2 infection; an additional 18 children (9%) met criteria for MIS-C. Only 25 (51%) of children with acute SARS-CoV-2 infection presented with fever; symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection, if present, were non-specific. Nasopharyngeal viral load was highest in children in the first 2 days of symptoms, significantly higher than hospitalized adults with severe disease (P = .002). Age did not impact viral load, but younger children had lower ACE2 expression (P=0.004). IgM and IgG to the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein were increased in severe MIS-C (P<0.001), with dysregulated humoral responses observed."

This is simply more evidence from the scientific community (which unfortunately is becoming more of a dirty phrase as time goes on in the US) that children are not immune from catching and spreading SARS-CoV-2 despite generally suffering from milder disease. However, the 9% of children enrolled in the study who presented with MIS-C is somewhat shocking in terms of the percentage, I had previously assumed the number would be significantly lower.

Regardless, I will be waiting for the American Academy of Pediatrics to change their following statement "Although children and adolescents play a major role in amplifying influenza outbreaks, to date, this does not appear to be the case with SARS-CoV-2." Something tells me I will be waiting a long time.