A study released Thursday shows that children may play a larger role in community spread of COVID-19 than previously understood.
The research out of Massachusetts General Hospital and MassGeneral Hospital for Children shows that infected children — even those without symptoms — can have higher levels of virus in their airways than adults hospitalized in intensive care units.
More than a quarter of the 192 children enrolled in the study tested positive for COVID-19. Published in the Journal of Pediatrics, the report says educational settings from daycare to high school should take the new information into account when determining how and whether in-person learning should proceed.
Some kids enrolled in the study went to an urgent care clinic for testing, while others were hospitalized with symptoms of COVID-19 or the related inflammatory illness impacting children, says Lael Yonker, lead author of the study and director of the hospital’s Cystic Fibrosis Center.
“What surprised us the most was that children carried very high viral loads in their airway secretions,” she says, “loads that were higher than adults who are hospitalized for their severe COVID illness.”
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