COVID-19: Kids' Noses May Carry More Virus Than Adults'

Bats may harbour viruses but should not be persecuted say experts

A hot Covid-19 debate included the extent to which children can spread the virus and whether schools should close to curb the spread, not only in South Africa, but also in the US and UK.

'Our study was not created to prove that younger children spread COVID-19 as much as adults, but it is a possibility, ' said Heald-Sargent.

The first new study investigated 100 recovered COVID-19 patients (median age of 49 years old), an average of 71 days after initial diagnosis. Yet, there was no data as to what extent young children are able to spread the virus.

Now, an global team of researchers led by neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School has identified the olfactory cell types most vulnerable to infection by SARS-CoV-2the virus that causes COVID-19. The investigators then recorded PCR amplification cycle CT values, with "lower values indicating higher amounts of viral nucleic acid". They compared the quantity of virus genetic material found in three age groups - children younger than five years, children five to 17 years, and adults 18-65 years.

A small study conducted on 100 patients in Germany has shown that recovered patients had heart conditions and some also suffered inflammation of heart muscles and tissues.

In a commentary accompanying the publication of the new studies, deputy editor of JAMA Cardiology Clyde Yancy and section editor Gregg Fonarow call for urgent ongoing research to better understand the cardiovascular complications associated with COVID-19, as preparations may be necessary for what could be another dimension to this pandemic crisis.

"The bottom line thus far is that children under 10 years of age are unlikely to drive outbreaks of Covid-19 in daycares and schools and that, to date, adults were much more likely to be the transmitter of infection than children", said study researcher Sarah Neil-Sztramko from the McMaster University.

"We found that families are under strain, especially female caregivers and children, with increasing gender gaps in employment and household labour and poor mental health outcomes in children", said Neil-Sztramko.

While experts are still unsure to what extent young children may spread the virus in their communities, they could potentially be drivers of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in society.

Importantly, the researchers noted that their findings were limited to detection of viral nucleic acid and not infectious virus.

The study is significant in "pointing to the scale and nature of the problems that zoonotic transmission presents to humans", reported BBC citing Mark Pagel, professor of the University of Reading, who was not involved in the study.

"I've heard lots of people saying, 'Well, kids aren't susceptible, kids don't get infected.' And this clearly shows that's not true", said Stacey Schultz-Cherry, a virologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to the New York Times. They also suggest that immunisation should focus on the young as well, should a vaccine become available.



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