- 49 out of 122 children in the study tested positive for the coronavirus.
- 18 of 122 experienced COVID-19 symptoms afterward.
- Children who tested positive had higher levels of the coronavirus in their airways compared to adult ICU patients, the study found.
“I was surprised by the high levels of virus we found in children of all ages, especially in the first two days of infection. I was not expecting the viral load to be so high. You think of a hospital, and of all of the precautions taken to treat severely ill adults, but the viral loads of these hospitalized patients are significantly lower than a ‘healthy child’ who is walking around with a high SARS-CoV-2 viral load.” — lead study author Dr. Lael Yonker, director of the MGH Cystic Fibrosis Center
The study — titled “Pediatric SARS-CoV-2: Clinical Presentation, Infectivity, and Immune Reponses” — was published this week in the Journal of Pediatrics.
The study suggests a higher “viral load” could lead to them being more contagious to those around them.
Children often don’t show symptoms, per Study Finds, so it’s hard to identify cases. This could mean there are more “silent spreaders” out there than previously believed.
“Kids are not immune from this infection, and their symptoms don’t correlate with exposure and infection. During this COVID-19 pandemic, we have mainly screened symptomatic subjects, so we have reached the erroneous conclusion that the vast majority of people infected are adults. However, our results show that kids are not protected against this virus. We should not discount children as potential spreaders for this virus.” — Alessio Fasano, director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at MGH, said in a statement.