Coronavirus: children half as likely to get it, says journal

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Children and teens are half as likely to get coronavirus, according to the largest review of the evidence.

The results, by the UCL and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will fuel the debate on reopening schools.

Children also appear less likely to spread the virus, but the team said there is still uncertainty about it.

The British government is expected to publish its scientific advice on schools later.

However, only England has announced that some primary (reception, first and sixth grade) children may return to class, raising concerns about safety.

It’s already clear that children are much less likely to get seriously ill or die from a coronavirus.

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However, two other key questions were more difficult to answer:

  • are children less likely to get the virus?
  • are children less likely to transmit it?

Researchers have conducted 6,332 studies around the world – most of which have not been officially published – to try to get the answers. They only identified 18 with useful data.

These were a mix of studies that tested the spread of the virus in schools or households through rigorous contact testing, as well as studies that tested a large number of people in a population for the virus for see who’s wearing it.

Analysis has shown that children are 56% less likely than an adult to get the virus when exposed to an infected person.

“Teachers are worried about their children and I think it is incredibly reassuring that the children they teach are half as susceptible to this virus,” said Professor Russell Viner of University College London and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

However, the reason is unclear.

There have been discussions about the differences in children’s lungs that make them more difficult to catch the virus or that they are exposed to more colds related to the coronavirus, which could lead to some degree of immunity.

Can children spread the coronavirus?

The evidence was less clear on how easily children spread the virus. For example, a study of 31 clusters of infections found that only three (10%) were started by a child. The equivalent figure for influenza is 54%.

However, the researcher said that while children are less susceptible to the virus, they are also less likely to be the main source of infections.

Professor Viner added: “This confirms the view that children are likely to play a smaller role in the transmission of the virus and the proliferation of the pandemic, although considerable uncertainty remains. “

He declined to be drawn directly to the political decision to reopen schools, but said he would be concerned if all the focus was only on the health effects of adults “and that the disadvantages for children of not going to school were devalued and did not play into the equation. “.

Advice from scientific advisers to the British government, called SAGE, is expected to be published later.

However, the rival group called “Independent SAGE” published its opinion, saying that schools should not reopen until they have the opportunity to follow the spread of the virus and test anyone who comes into contact with infected people.

He also said that the risk to students would be cut in half if the reopening was delayed for two weeks due to the reduction in cases.

Boris Johnson said 25,000 contact tracers, capable of tracking 10,000 new cases a day, would be in place by June 1.

Sir David King, who heads the group, said: “It is clear from the evidence we have gathered that June 1 is just too early to go back. and the probability of a second peak. “

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