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Kids do get the coronavirus — they just don't get as sick

mom takes the temperature of a girl lying down in bed
(Image: © Shutterstock)

Children are no less likely than adults to become infected with the new coronavirus, but they are less likely to get seriously ill from it.

Those are the results of a new study from China's Shenzhen province uploaded on the preprint site MedRxiv on March 4. The research team, led by scientists from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Shenzhen Center for Disease Control and Prevention, followed 391 people who contracted the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, between Jan. 12 and Feb. 14, as well as 1,286 of their close contacts. This surveillance of close contacts allowed the researchers to understand how the disease spread through friends, colleagues and family members. 

The study is not yet peer-reviewed, but it did reproduce a pattern that researchers have been observing since early in the outbreak: Children don't seem to get sick with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, at the same rate adults do. This is likely because children have healthier lungs than adults do (they don't smoke and have fewer years of exposure to pollution) and because adults are more likely to have dangerous immune responses to respiratory diseases, experts told Live Science last month

Related: Live updates on COVID-19

However, the new research shows that children do, in fact, catch the coronavirus at about the same rate as adults. According to the findings, 7.4% of children exposed to one of the known carriers of the disease in the study later tested positive for the disease, similar to the population average of 7.9%.

Within households, the disease spread most readily, with 15% of people living with an infected person later coming down with the virus.

What remains unclear is how readily children, with their relatively mild symptoms, spread the disease to other people — especially to vulnerable older individuals. 

"That's one of the current critical remaining questions, and we're trying to figure out how to answer" it, study co-author Justin Lessler, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Nature News. "I have a 7-month-old and a 6-year-old, and I can't imagine that, if they have any virus at all, they're not getting it on somebody."

If children are effective at transmitting the virus, it would bolster the case for school closures aimed at reducing the scope of the outbreak. School closure is a difficult decision, epidemiologists previously told Live Science, because it is a highly disruptive step. And we don't know the best time to close schools or how long they need to stay closed to reduce the spread of the disease.

A second lesson described in the new research is that close surveillance can help to stop the new coronavirus from spreading. People who were tested proactively because of their contact with an infected person were isolated 2.7 days after developing symptoms, the researchers found. In comparison, people who were tested only after developing symptoms were isolated 4.6 days after the symptoms emerged, an additional 1.9 days of potentially transmitting the virus. 

Originally published on Live Science.

Originally published on Live Science.

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  • LisaSummit2
    I'm not good with message boards so bear with me. What if this virus is a manmade bioweapon virus and they somehow designed it in a way that it cannot affect the younger cell structure of children. There has to be a reason because the old and young are usually the first to be hard hit and it is barely affecting children at all. I find it odd the Media just has dismissed that as if it isn't interesting or important. Also- it's popping up in places where NOONE has left to be exposed to virus, so maybe terrorists are spreading it discreetly in many places.
    Reply
  • JeetsN123
    It seems that you may have been misinformed by a faulty news article. I doubt that a terrorist group would have the technology and skill required to do such a thing, and terrorists thrive on publicity. If this was a bioweapon, we would have had a terrorist group take responsibility for it- and then probably make some demands, threatening to release more if they are not met. Also, what reason would a terrorist have to not infect children? The same type of fanatics who can set bombs and kill hundreds would not have such qualms.
    Reply
  • JeetsN123
    here is a link on how these outbreaks can become a source of conspiracy theories:
    https://www.snopes.com/news/2020/02/28/coronavirus-is-a-breeding-ground-for-conspiracy-theories/
    Reply
  • Knowledge is power
    I saw a video from Iran, trust me kids get it..
    Reply
  • James DeMeo
    NOTHING from China can be trusted. They murdered or "disappeared" all the doctors and nurses who blew the whistle about this disaster, and now treat their citizens like cattle, locking them inside apartments with welded barriers, and both eye-witnesses and videos show horrid abuse of violent police against ordinary people merely suspected of being "carriers". Has "Live Science" gone so far to the Leftist side that they will become a carrier of Red Chinese propaganda? You talk about "conspiracy theory", but the push in China today is to down-play what's going on while, at the same time, being viciously brutal to their "subjects". This makes it nearly impossible to judge what is true infectious disease versus hysterial murderous attitudes on the part of the Chinese communist thugs!
    Reply
  • LisaSummit2
    LisaSummit2 said:
    I'm not good with message boards so bear with me. What if this virus is a manmade bioweapon virus and they somehow designed it in a way that it cannot affect the younger cell structure of children. There has to be a reason because the old and young are usually the first to be hard hit and it is barely affecting children at all. I find it odd the Media just has dismissed that as if it isn't interesting or important. Also- it's popping up in places where NOONE has left to be exposed to virus, so maybe terrorists are spreading it discreetly in many places.
    JeetsN123 said:
    It seems that you may have been misinformed by a faulty news article. I doubt that a terrorist group would have the technology and skill required to do such a thing, and terrorists thrive on publicity. If this was a bioweapon, we would have had a terrorist group take responsibility for it- and then probably make some demands, threatening to release more if they are not met. Also, what reason would a terrorist have to not infect children? The same type of fanatics who can set bombs and kill hundreds would not have such qualms.
    Reply
  • LisaSummit2
    I have read NO ARTICLE AND BEEN MISINFORMED. I'm a big girl and can read articles and take from them what I choose. The reason small children do not get this as badly as adults--this is the clue. Figure that out and we will be much closer to a vaccine. As far as terrorists love to claim their catastrophic deeds....my brother, his wife and 2 cousins died in the major TWA flight in 96. There are several books claiming this was the first act of terrorism and most of the families never bought the static in center fuel tank neat and tidy story . So maybe terrorists don't WANT any light shed on them until they finish what they're up to. Look, I'm just saying OPEN MINDS solve problems--going on old information is reinventing the wheel. Maybe a group wants all old people and middle agers to be cut down population wise. Children are impressionable and would be easier to force into communism or whatever it may be. They're young, strong and easily impressionable compared to adults If this is what this virus is--I'm guarantying you they have thousands of vaccines ready and waiting to end this pandemic. . And to make you think I'm even more stupid----this 3-4% death rate is WAY TOO LOW. That is a crock. This is doubling daily. The virus will kill THOUSANDS in poverty stricken places like Africa. It will probably mutate and become more and more deadly and strong. When this is all said and done, I see the death rate at more like 20% of those infected. So shred me again on this hypothesis . I can take it.
    Reply
  • JeetsN123
    LisaSummit2 said:
    I have read NO ARTICLE AND BEEN MISINFORMED. I'm a big girl and can read articles and take from them what I choose. The reason small children do not get this as badly as adults--this is the clue. Figure that out and we will be much closer to a vaccine. As far as terrorists love to claim their catastrophic deeds....my brother, his wife and 2 cousins died in the major TWA flight in 96. There are several books claiming this was the first act of terrorism and most of the families never bought the static in center fuel tank neat and tidy story . So maybe terrorists don't WANT any light shed on them until they finish what they're up to. Look, I'm just saying OPEN MINDS solve problems--going on old information is reinventing the wheel. Maybe a group wants all old people and middle agers to be cut down population wise. Children are impressionable and would be easier to force into communism or whatever it may be. They're young, strong and easily impressionable compared to adults If this is what this virus is--I'm guarantying you they have thousands of vaccines ready and waiting to end this pandemic. . And to make you think I'm even more stupid----this 3-4% death rate is WAY TOO LOW. That is a crock. This is doubling daily. The virus will kill THOUSANDS in poverty stricken places like Africa. It will probably mutate and become more and more deadly and strong. When this is all said and done, I see the death rate at more like 20% of those infected. So shred me again on this hypothesis . I can take it.
    I have no problem with with open minds, but it seems you have jumped to conclusions. Why would a 3-4% death rate be "WAY TOO LOW", as you put it? And how would a low death rate be evidence towards a terrorist strike? Besides, working with viruses like this would be very expensive and require funds and machinery that no terrorist organization that we know of has access to. Terrorists, specifically, require publicity to be effective. Even more than bombs and guns, fear is what they use.
    Reply
  • timtak
    Knowledge is power said:
    I saw a video from Iran, trust me kids get it..
    Strange that. They are not getting it hardly at all in Wuhan and elsewhere. Could it be a different strain in Iran?
    Reply
  • timtak
    admin said:
    Kids seem unlikely to become dangerously ill from the new coronavirus, but they do get infected. Kids do get the coronavirus — they just don't get as sick : Read more
    I am not connected with medicine in any way.

    There is a hypothesis called the "flight as fever" hypothesis, which currently contested by some in vitro research on bat filoviruses showing that they do not die when heated) that bats, who have WEAK immune systems, defend against pathogens because they get hot when they fly. It is as if they have a fever on a daily basis.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4012789/
    It is also well known that children have higher fevers and the paper below says that fever decreases by .15 degrees Celsius per decade of age (I am not connected with medicine).
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002962915346103
    I know that the World Health Organization says that having a hot bath will not help and I am not connected with medicine.
    https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-bustersbecause they claim that body temperature does not vary even if you do take a hot bath, and very hot baths can be dangerous.

    But, here in Japan in the land of hot springs (onsen) there is research to show that a 42 degree hand bath for ten minutes increases body temperature by 0.15 degrees Celsius. (This research is in Japanese but the graphs are in English. See figure 2)
    https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/onki/79/2/79_106/_pdf/-char/ja
    The 1918 influenza was a different disease but traditional (i.e. no modern) practitioners used and recommended foot baths and hot drinks
    https://ndnr.com/nature-cure/a-century-after-the-spanish-flu/
    There is a Welsh guy in Wuhan that contracted the disease and drank hot drinks (hot toddies). He says that the hot toddies were not much use but he kept drinking them till his whisky ran out.

    The WHO gives, as far as I am aware, zero advice on treatment, only on prevention. I am not connected with medicine in any way whatsoever, but despite the WHO's warning that hot baths are useless and a false rumor, if I our my family members do get infected in a situation where the local modern medical centres are overrun, I will take, or recommend that they take, a hot bath keep their feet or hands hot. Obviously not so hot that that it burns us. I am in no way connected with medicine.
    Reply