As you tread carefully around every corner, trying to avoid coronavirus as your city reopens, researchers are working furiously to determine who is more susceptible to the virus—and who isn’t. A new study sheds some light on the answer, claiming that people under the age of 20 are half as likely to catch COVID-19 than the rest of us. It also suggests that four out of five young folks show no symptoms at all.
Limited Impact on Transmission
“Using demographic data from the six countries, as well as from six studies on estimated COVID-19 infection rates and symptom severity across different age groups, the model showed that people under 20 are about half as susceptible to COVID-19 as people over 20, and that among 10 to 19 year-olds, only 21% of those infected had clinical symptoms,” reports Reuters. “The findings suggest that school closures—introduced in many countries as part of lockdowns aimed at controlling the coronavirus pandemic—are likely to have a limited impact on transmission of the disease, the researchers said.”
The research was published in Nature Medicine.
The findings relate to the question of whether or not it’s safe to reopen schools. “Whether to reopen schools or not is a complicated question,” said study co-author Rosalind Eggo. “We’ve provided some evidence showing an indication of decreased (COVID-19) susceptibility in children.”
Children are Still At Risk
The findings come at a time when parents are worried about their children, with reports of an inflammatory illness resulting in hospitalizations and deaths. It was originally reported to be very much like Kawasaki disease, a condition that causes inflammation in the blood vessels. However, more and more research is showing that those symptoms represent a new illness altogether.
“Two new studies involving a total of 75 children published yesterday in JAMA showed that the pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 is novel and different from Kawasaki disease (KD) and toxic shock syndrome (TSS),” reported the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. “Reports of the rare but serious illness began surfacing around the world in the months after the pandemic began.”
For their part, the researchers who published in Nature Medicine also looked at asymptomatic cases versus those with symptoms. “We were not able to estimate exactly how infectious asymptomatic cases more generally are compared to symptomatic cases,” said Nicholas Davies, who co-led the work. “But there is some limited evidence that asymptomatic individuals are less infectious than fully symptomatic individuals and there’s certainly a fair amount of evidence suggesting that both asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals are definitely potentially infectious,” he said.
In conclusion, the research may help inform countries plan for reopenings. “The age structure of a population can have a significant impact,” said Davies. “Countries with more young people may experience a lower burden of COVID-19.”
Keep Your Under-20s Safe
Despite the encouraging news, everyone, no matter their age, should wash their hands frequently, practice social distancing, and wear a face covering (unless they are under 2 years old). As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.