Are children as vulnerable to COVID as adults? Latest research says ‘yes’

A number of schools overseas have reopened with little incident, but outbreaks occurred in some places. Social-distancing screens separated students in Bangkok on Aug. 7. Credit: Andre Malerba/Zuma Press

Several studies and reports published in recent weeks found coronavirus infections among children of all ages at places ranging from schools to camps to homes. Other research suggested that kids, especially older ones, can be a driving force behind transmission. And some researchers found children carry high levels of Covid-19’s genetic material in their upper respiratory tract, which doesn’t mean they are transmitting the virus but that they potentially could.

Most of the studies have limitations, and more research is needed, experts say. Yet the new studies, together with reports of outbreaks among children at some schools overseas and a summer camp in Georgia, have persuaded many researchers that children aren’t as immune to Covid-19 as initially thought.

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The change in thinking comes as schools prepare to begin a new year, including some still deciding whether it would be safe for children to return to classrooms. President Trump and some members of his administration have urged schools to reopen.

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Some schools in the U.S. can likely safely reopen, researchers say, but the new findings suggest the facilities should proceed carefully. And, they added, schools should wait until community transmission is under control. They also should take steps that can reduce the risks for students and staff, such as widespread masking and frequent cleaning, along with social distancing and good ventilation, experts recommend.


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