A University of Alberta study found that more than one-third of children who contract COVID-19 are asymptomatic, which indicates that far more kids could be infected than previously thought.
The researchers emphasized the importance of their data, saying there is probably a lot more COVID-19 in the community, as these children who do not develop the most common signs of cough, runny nose, and sore throat, are not diagnosed.
“When we see reports of 1,200 new cases per day in the province of Alberta, that’s likely to be the tip of the iceberg — there are likely many people who don’t know they have the disease and are potentially spreading it,” said Dr. Finlay McAlister, an internist at the University of Alberta Hospital, according to Science Magazine.
McAlister and his team studied the results of 2,463 youngsters who were tested for COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic. They found that 1,987 children had a positive result but that 35.9% were asymptomatic.
“It speaks to all the school safety programs,” the expert said. “We can do all the COVID-19 questionnaires we want, but if one-third of the kids are asymptomatic, the answer is going to be no to all of the questions — yet they’re still infected.”
Early data downplayed the role of children in the coronavirus outbreak because they displayed few, if any, symptoms. But another recent study adds to the growing body of evidence that children may be acting as silent spreaders of COVID-19.
The latest evidence published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that some children have high levels of the virus in their airways even if they are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. These levels appear to peak during the first three days of infection and can be instrumental in spreading disease through the community, especially as schools reopen.
“Some people thought that children may be protected,” said study author Dr. Alessio Fasano, of MassGeneral Hospital for Children, according to The Washington Post. “This is incorrect. They may be as susceptible as adults — but just not visible.”
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