Although the study did not measure portability, it raises questions – as soon as schools start again – about how easily a new coronavirus can be spread by children under 5 years of age.
“We have just noticed that some of the children we tested positive for SARS CoV-2 seem to have a high viral nucleic acid content in the youngest children – a high viral load in the nose compared to some of our older children and adults, ”said CNN lead author Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago. “So when we … actually counted the numbers, controlling a few things, we found that there was actually a statistically significant higher amount of genes encoded by SARS in the nose, which usually correlates with more viruses. Children younger than five years old compared to older children and adults ’.
Heald-Sargent and her team analyzed 145 swab specimens taken from patients with mild to moderate Kovid-19 within a week of the onset of symptoms; Of these, 46 were from children under 5 years of age, 51 from 5 to 17 years of age, and 48 from adults from 18 to 65 years of age. Samples were taken from late March to late April from a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings. , in the emergency department and ambulance checkpoints at the Children ‘s Tertiary Medical Center in Chicago.
They found that men under the age of 5 had statistically significant higher levels of virus particles in their noses, associated with “10-100 times higher levels of coronavirus in the upper respiratory tract …”, the researchers wrote in their work.
Heald-Sargent says more research is needed to find out the portability of SARS-CoV-2 in children. “So far, this transfer seems to come primarily from children,” Heald-Sargent said.
However, her team noted in the document that due to the March. In the middle of the measures implemented at home, many young children had fewer opportunities to transfer.
“There was still the question: can it be passed on from children?” she said, noting that the absence of evidence is not proof that it is not.
If it indicates the presence of other respiratory viruses, the answer may be yes.
“Any teacher or pediatrician in the class will tell you [young children] are quite effective vectors because we get a lot of sick with these kids in the winter, she said. – I think we look at other viruses that are similar … It would seem more likely that children will transmit. “
Other experts say that while they were not surprised by the findings, it is good that a study will be conducted.
“The pediatric data were not as robust as in adults with Covid-19, so it’s really nice to have additional virological data on children,” Dr. Alpana Waghmare from Seattle Children.
“The authors did a good job of comparing a fairly reliable sample of subjects in different age groups and using fairly straightforward forms of research to find out the differences in viral load in these age groups,” said Waghmare, an assistant professor of pediatrics. Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, University of Washington.
Waghmare argued that the findings are consistent with other published studies that examine viral loads in different spectra of respiratory viruses in pediatric populations. “It’s no surprise that there are higher levels of viruses in children. I don’t think the question of what exactly this means for transmission is still clear,” she said.
Dr. Michael Smith, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, agrees – and then some.
“We’ve known for a long time that some respiratory viruses are younger children and are the part of the population that spreads them to the rest of society,” said Smith, who is also a hospital epidemiologist. and the Director of Medicine for Infection Prevention and Control.
The question remains, what can you do?
“Once you find out how many viruses there are and what age groups have more and how fewer viruses, then it can help shape surveillance, testing and isolation strategies,” he said.
Heald-Sargent said that “behavioral habits” in very young children – such as a lack of understanding of personal space and personal hygiene, spreading all hands, playing with hands and wiping eyes and nose – made it difficult to control any possible spread, but it was important to try.
“It’s a struggle to force them to wear masks and wash their hands, not to put everything in their mouths and noses,” she said.
“The fact that adults model good behavior encourages their children to wash their hands and masks as much as possible, to clean large areas of contact, to be careful with diapers,” she said, adding that young children usually want to please their parents.
At the community level, she said it would also be important to implement infection control practices such as contact tracing and take measures at school, such as keeping children in the same small groups, to limit the spread.