More than one-third of kids who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic, according to a University of Alberta study that suggests youngsters diagnosed with the disease may represent just a fraction of those infected.
For the study, McAlister’s team analyzed results for 2,463 children who were tested during the first wave of the pandemic—March to September—for COVID-19 infection.
All told, 1,987 children had a positive test result for COVID-19 and 476 had a negative result. Of children who tested positive, 714—35.9 per cent—reported being asymptomatic.
We can do all the COVID-19 questionnaires we want, but if one-third of the kids are asymptomatic, the answer is going to be no to all the questions—yet they’re still infected.
Because of the asymptomatic nature of the disease in up to one-third of children, McAlister said the province was right to close schools for a longer period over Christmas.
As far as we know, kids are less likely to spread disease than adults, but the risk is not zero. Presumably asymptomatic spreaders are less contagious than the person sitting nearby who is sneezing all over you, but we don’t know that for sure.
The researchers also found that although cough, runny nose and sore throat were three of the most common symptoms among children with COVID-19 infection—showing up in 25, 19 and 16 per cent of cases respectively—they were actually slightly more common among those with negative COVID-19 test results, and therefore not predictive of a positive test.
Kids are at risk of contracting many different viruses, so the COVID-specific symptoms are actually more things like loss of taste and smell, headache, fever, and nausea and vomiting, not runny nose, a cough and sore throat.
Release date: 27 November 2020
Source: University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry