Some signs children may not transmit COVID-19, two UK epidemiologists say

  • >> Reuters
    Published: 2020-05-19 19:24:17 BdST

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A student walks inside a francophone primary school during its reopening in Jumet, as a small part of Belgian children head back to their schools with new rules and social distancing measures, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Jumet, Belgium, May 18, 2020. REUTERS

There are tentative signs that children may not spread the novel coronavirus as much as adults, two top epidemiologists said on Tuesday, though they cautioned that the bad news was that human immunity may not last that long.

As Europe and the United States try to get back to work after the first deadly wave of the novel coronavirus outbreak, world leaders are trying to work out when it is safe for children and students can get back to their studies.

The signs are that children may not spread it as much as adults, Dr Rosalind Eggo, who is on committees that advise the British government on its infectious disease response, told members of parliament’s upper house.

“We think that children are less likely to get it so far but it is not certain, we are very certain that children are less likely to have severe outcomes and there are hints that children are less infectious but it is not certain,” said Eggo of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

John Edmunds, a member of Britain’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told the House of Lords’ science committee that it was striking how children did not seem to play much of a role in spreading the novel coronavirus.

“It is unusual that children don’t seem to play much of a role in transmission because for most respiratory viruses and bacteria they play a central role, but in this they don’t seem to,” said Edmunds, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“There is only one documented outbreak associated with a school - which is amazing,” Edmunds said.

But he added there was potentially bad news, though, that human immunity to the novel coronavirus may not last long.