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Covid-19: Children, infants more infectious than adults, says Wuhan study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 22, 2021

The study suggests infants were more than twice as likely to be infected than children aged 2-5

According to a study conducted on over 20,000 families by the researchers in Wuhan, children and teenagers are less vulnerable to Covid-19. However, they are more infectious than adults.

The researchers vouched for the timely vaccination of children and their caregivers in order to mitigate the secondary spread of the infection.

The level of Covid-19 infection in children should also be considered before resuming schools, the researchers said in the study published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Disease this week.

The study included the households of all clinically confirmed Covid-19 cases and lab-confirmed asymptomatic Sars-CoV-2 infections identified by the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control and Prevention between December 2, 2019, and April 18, 2020.

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The researchers intended to explore the household transmissibility of Sars-CoV-2 and risk factors associated with infectivity and susceptibility to infection in Wuhan.

“Within households, children and adolescents were less susceptible to Sars-CoV-2 infection but were more infectious than older individuals. Pre-symptomatic cases were more infectious and individuals with asymptomatic infection less infectious than symptomatic cases,” the researchers said.

“These findings have implications for devising interventions for blocking the household transmission of Sars-CoV-2, such as timely vaccination of eligible children once resources become available,” they said.

Study’s findings

Key findings of the study suggest that infants were more than twice as likely to be infected than children aged 2-5 years and are 53 per cent more likely to be infected than children aged 6-12 years.

“In addition, children and adolescents were more likely to infect others than were older age groups,” wrote the researchers, including from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan and Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle.

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They added: “Individuals with asymptomatic infection were less likely to infect others than were symptomatic cases. Symptomatic cases were more infectious during the incubation period than during the symptomatic period.”

“The relatively high infectivity of children in households should be considered carefully when making decisions around school reopenings, as infected children can pass the virus to their family members. Finally, given the vulnerability of infants to infection, their caregivers should be prioritized for vaccination,” the researchers concluded.

Published on January 22, 2021

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