New studies find children are just as likely as adults to spread the new coronavirus. These early findings could make potential school openings especially fraught.
- Globally, there have been more than 3.7 million confirmed cases and more than 260,000 associated deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
- The United States currently has the highest reported number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with more than 1.2 million. However, due to a lack of testing, the number of actual cases may be far higher.
- More than 70,000 people in the United States have died from the disease.
A German study, which is not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, looked at 60,000 people with COVID-19 in addition to 47 children with the disease. The team found that children had just as much viral load or even higher amounts of viral load than some adults.
This early research focusing on how children can spread the virus could be pivotal in helping officials combat a second wave as some states weigh loosening shelter-in-place orders.
Another study out of China found that school closures drastically helped lower the transmission of the virus and lessen the severity of the outbreak.
“While proactive school closures cannot interrupt transmission on their own, they can reduce peak incidence by 40-60 percent and delay the epidemic,” the authors said.
Experts point out this is early research and more information is needed.
“Are any of these studies definitive? The answer is ‘No, of course not,’” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University. But, he said, “to open schools because of some uninvestigated notion that children aren’t really involved in this, that would be a very foolish thing.”