Children Much More Likely to Have Asymptomatic Cases of COVID-19: Study

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
October 13, 2021 Updated: October 13, 2021

Children are much more likely to have cases of COVID-19 without showing symptoms than adults, according to a new study.

Roughly half the children between 0 and 11 years old who tested positive for COVID-19 across households studied in New York City and some counties in Utah showed no symptoms, researchers found. Almost half the kids 12 to 17 had COVID-19 without symptoms.

That compared to just 12 percent of adults 18 or older not having symptoms from the disease.

The study followed 1,236 people in 310 households between September 2020 through April to track asymptomatic and symptomatic infections. Participants self-collected nasal swabs.

The study found similar COVID-19 infection rates across age groups, though the risk of infection was higher in New York City.

Forty of the households had one or more COVID-19 infections during the study period. Ninety-four participants tested positive.

The study was well-designed, Dr. Monica Gandhi, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told The Epoch Times.

“They could basically stratify that 0 through 4, 5 to 11, and then going up from there are very unlikely to get sick,” Gandhi said.

Researchers, including Dr. Fatimah Dawood with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the study showed that households remain a common site for transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Our findings suggest that children and adults have similar incidence rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection, underscoring the need for rapid evaluation of vaccine efficacy and safety in children to expand vaccine indications to younger age groups. We also found that SARS-CoV-2 infections were more frequently asymptomatic in children compared with adults, highlighting the need for additional data on risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from persons with asymptomatic infection, including children,” they concluded.

SARS-CoV-2 is another name for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.

In an accompanying article also published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Flor Munoz, an infectious disease and pediatric expert in Texas, said the study should drive mitigation measures like masking and social distancing in various group activities, including childcare and after-school programs.

Others weren’t as sure.

“The risk of serious outcome (hospitalization, death) is very low in children—about the same as for a middle aged, vaccinated person. The decision about whether children should be expected to adhere to mitigation measure (or try to) depends on the level (and type) of virus circulating in the community at the time, the degree of vaccination among the eligible population, and our overall risk tolerance. There is certainly room for people to disagree on these points,” Dr. Adam Cifu, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, told The Epoch Times in an email.

Gandhi said her primary takeaway was how low-risk children are from COVID-19.

Even in dense households in high transmission areas, “children are so much less likely to get sick,” she said.

Other studies have indicated that children often don’t suffer severe cases of COVID-19 when they contract the disease.

Another study recently published, from the United Kingdom, found that school-aged children who contracted the illness typically had a short duration of symptoms, even after the Delta strain of the CCP virus became prevalent.

The median illness was found to be five days, with the odds of several symptoms being higher with Delta compared to the Alpha strain.

“Few children presented to hospital, and long illness duration was uncommon, with either variant,” researchers said.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.