Coronavirus in children is relatively unnoticeable which leaves them unlikely to get diagnosed. However, despite their lack of symptoms, the children can carry the virus in their throats and noses for up to three weeks, a new study found. This might explain the silent spread of the coronavirus among communities.
The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association studied 91 children with coronavirus in Korea. The study found that among the 91 children 20 did not show any symptoms and remained asymptomatic throughout the research, 18 were pre-symptomatic as they didn’t show any symptoms at the time of research but eventually got sick later. 71 of the children including the 18 pre symptomatic ones showed symptoms of cough, abdominal pain, loss of taste or smell, fever, and diarrhea. The symptoms appeared between 0 to 36 days of being diagnosed.
The study comes days after an update in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s guidelines, which according to the American Academy of Pediatrics is a ‘dangerous step backward’. In the updated guidelines, people who are asymptomatic may not need to be tested, even those who are in close contact with a person who is known to be covid19 positive. This new study shows the need for everyone, who thinks he has contracted the virus whether asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, should get themselves tested.
Dr. Meghan Delaney and Dr. Roberta Debiasi, of Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC wrote in an editorial that this study of coronavirus in children aligns with the adult data in which nearly 40% of adults show no symptoms while carrying the virus. They added that if only symptomatic patients have been tested then 85 of these 91 children would have been missed from being diagnosed.
The data from the study showed that only 8.5% of the children were diagnosed with the coronavirus with symptoms at the time they began to feel ill. 66.2% of the children had no symptoms at the time they were diagnosed with the virus, while 25.4% developed symptoms after they were tested positive. Debiasi and Delaney wrote that this highlights the concept that infected children are more likely to go unnoticed either they are with or without symptoms and continue with their lives in a usual way which may contribute to the spread of the virus in their community.
Moreover, the study found that the genetic material from the virus was present in the children for an average of 17.6 days. Even the children who were asymptomatic the virus was present for 14 days on average. However, there is a possibility that the virus was present in the children for a longer period as they don’t know when they contracted the virus.
This does not mean, however, that the coronavirus in children is the reason for the spread, experts say. According to them, the presence of genetic material from the virus in swabs does not equal to the transmission, particularly in children who didn’t have important symptoms of coughing and sneezing. Debiasi and Delaney agreed by saying that the sensitive molecular detection methods may detect viable, infective viruses but can also detect nonviable or fragments of RNA not capable of transmission.