Washington: With US President Donald Trump advocating re-opening of schools, the surfacing of packed school hallways in Georgia and news of positive tests on the first day of classes in Indiana and Mississippi has sparked discussions over the risk of coronavirus infections on children, The Washington Post reported.
Citing a report by leading pediatric health groups, it was stated that more than 97,000 US children had tested positive for the COVID-19 in the last two weeks of July, more than a quarter of the total number of children diagnosed nationwide since March. As of July 30, there were 338,982 cases reported in children since the COVID-19 outbreak, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association stated.
The Washington Post has reported that the teacher’s unions from Florida to Ohio have planned to hold protests against fully re-opening the schools as the children are still likely to pass on the infection to the vulnerable adults.
However, Trump has always maintained that the coronavirus poses little threat to children.
On August 6, The Washington Post had reported Trump as saying in the removed video, “If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease,” and that they have stronger immune systems.
The statement was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that stated children as being far less likely to be hospitalised with COVID-19 than adults.
While the previous studies on children being at risk of getting infected with coronavirus were few and conflicting, The Washington Post reported that the recent evidence has suggested the coronavirus may affect younger children differently than older ones.
Citing a paper published in July in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, it was reported that children younger than 5 with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 had much higher levels of virus in their noses than older children and adults. The study, conducted by doctors at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, used data from 145 children tested at drive-through sites in that region.
The age-based differences in children were also found in a study examining household transmission in South Korea.
Citing researchers, The Washington Post reported that there hasn’t been a clear, documented case of a young child triggering an outbreak. The cases, in fact, spiked among children of age group 15- 25, suggesting they may be driving the spread of the virus.
Sadiya S. Khan, an assistant professor of cardiology and preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, was quoted as saying that social practices, not biology, may explain why teens and young adults appear to be spreading infection.
“They are more likely to be out and about. They are more likely to not have experienced any consequences. There has been a lot of attention to the fact that people who are older have a worse course and if you’re young, it doesn’t feel as dangerous, so they might think, ‘Why be as careful?’ ” Khan said.
She further said that the spread of coronavirus infections among the broader community might also be the result of schools not mandating face masks and social distancing.
As the number of coronavirus cases among children continues to increase, the experts believe that the decision to re-open the schools was made without taking the full picture of the risk the virus poses to children.