Children Aged 10-19 Spread Coronavirus as Much as Adults, New Study Finds

A new study out of South Korea has found that children aged 10 to 19 can spread the novel coronavirus just as much as adults as the U.S. continues to debate if schools should be open this fall.

Published by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, the large study, reports that household transmission of the coronavirus “was high” for patients between 10 and 19 years of age.

Children Aged 10-19 Spread Coronavirus as Much as Adults
Image via Michael O’Connor

For patients aged 0 to 9, household transmission rates were at the lowest.

Researchers analyzed reports for 59,073 contacts of 5,706 coronavirus patients in South Korea between January 20 and March 27 to reach their conclusions.

The study “is very carefully done, it’s systematic and looks at a very large population,” Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told The New York Times. “It’s one of the best studies we’ve had to date on this issue.”

Children Aged 10-19 Spread Coronavirus as Much as Adults
Image via Keith Holcomb

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The results come as school officials across the nation are deciding whether or not to reopen schools for the upcoming academic year.

Earlier in the month, Donald Trump threatened to cut off federal funding to schools that do not reopen on for on-campus learning, which he urged along with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Trump’s threat goes against the CDC’s recommendation. Vice President Mike Pence said earlier this month that the CDC would issue new guidance on reopening schools with “more clarity” that aligns with the administration’s position but admitted how the choice would ultimately be made at the local level.

The South Korean study said that the researchers’ results regarding coronavirus transmission amid school reopenings “underscores the need for a time-sensitive epidemiologic study to guide public health policy.”

Children Aged 10-19 Spread Coronavirus as Much as Adults

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“Contact tracing is especially important in light of upcoming future SARS-CoV-2 waves, for which social distancing and personal hygiene will remain the most viable options for prevention,” the study said. “Understanding the role of hygiene and infection control measures is critical to reducing household spread, and the role of masking within the home, especially if any family members are at high risk, needs to be studied.”

“I fear that there has been this sense that kids just won’t get infected or don’t get infected in the same way as adults and that, therefore, they’re almost like a bubbled population,” said an infectious diseases expert Michael Osterholm at the University of Minnesota to The New York Times, warning how if schools reopen, coronavirus will spread.

“There will be transmission,” he added. “What we have to do is accept that now and include that in our plans.”

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