Children contributing to spread and evolution of COVID-19: research

New research suggests that children are contributing to how quickly COVID-19 variants evolve due to new evidence of how they can spread the virus.

Several U.S hospitals and medical schools studied data from Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. They examined age, symptom duration and the severity of the illness in children.

“In the initial stages (of the pandemic) we thought children younger than eight would be less likely to spread (COVID-19),” said Dr. Tehseen Ladha, a pediatrician. “That theory has been debunked over and over.

“We see in this particular study that children carry very high viral loads within their respiratory passages and that’s one of the factors in transmitting COVID.”

Children tend to be less likely to have severe COVID-19 symptoms, but they are able to spread it to someone more likely to have a severe outcome, according to Ladha.

“It’s so important to address the transmission of COVID amongst kids, because many people say if children are less likely to get severe side effects, why do we need to vaccinate them, why do we need to implement safety measures in schools for them,” said Ladha.

“If we don’t control transmission among children the virus will continue to circulate, it will continue to mutate and it will continue to infect the whole community, not just the children.”

Ladha is calling for more measures in schools to decrease transmission, including mandatory quarantining for close contacts of positive cases, more rapid testing and mask mandates in Kindergarten to Grade 3 children.

“There’s a number of gaps where transmission can occur and is occurring and we see that by the number of outbreaks that have been declared and the number of students that have been infected and, frankly, by the number of patients I am seeing in clinic right now that have COVID,” said Ladha.