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More data, but still confusion over how much children spread SARS-CoV-2

JAMA Pediatrics
the Centers for Disease Control
the Ars Orbital Transmission
CNMN Collection WIRED Media Group
Condé Nast

John Timmer



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The New York Times
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And those to whom they spread coronavirus, such as teachers and school support staff, may be at much higher risk of severe illness.Some studies of the virus' spread early on in the COVID-19 pandemic suggested that children resisted infection, but that hasn't been seen in every study. While there are differences between this and the other results, the implications of both are consistent: we can't assume that children don't pose a risk of transmitting the infection.It's important to note that neither of these studies looked at viable virus; there's a chance that these results came from viral debris rather than functional viruses. If a higher viral load correlates with more severe symptoms, then it's possible that the testing situation selected for children with more virus.In the face of these uncertainties, both papers emphasize a critical point: most societies shut their schools down as the pandemic's threat became apparent, which has kept schools from driving COVID-19's spread. Over three-quarters of them tested positive for the virus, with infections higher among the younger camp attendees than among the somewhat older staff. Had the camp gone for longer, it's difficult to imagine that anyone could have avoided becoming infected.The CDC does not mince words: "This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and, contrary to early reports, might play an important role in transmission." That's because the staff, which played a key role in spreading the virus, had a median age of 17 years old—many of them were school-age, too.

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