How Chinese COVID-19’s impact on children is threatening the world’s pandemic recovery

May 10, 2020 by

Kids often show no symptoms, and have many more daily social contacts than adults

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Children with COVID-19 threaten recovery from the pandemic — sparking increased scrutiny of their cases from scientists and policy makers seeking clues about the new coronavirus’ spread and virulence.While infections of those under 18 compose a small portion of the worldwide total, they number in the thousands, and in recent days have become the subject of a National Institutes of Health study. There have also been reports in the U.S., U.K. and Europe of a mysterious condition among children.

In Italy, one model being used to guide recovery decisions has underscored the danger presented by children, who often show no symptoms and have many more daily social contacts than adults. It predicts that opening schools alone would blow out the reproduction factor — known as R0 and pronounced R naught — to around 1.3, above its current level below 1, which is needed to curb the outbreak.

“Opening the schools is a solution that’s absolutely worrying,” said Stefano Merler, a researcher at the Trento-based Fondazione Bruno Kessler who built the models with Italy’s Superior Institute of Health. “It would bring very serious problems in a very short time,” he said at an April 30 briefing.

By contrast, opening only businesses would keep the level below 1, according to the model. An R0 rate of 1 means that for every person infected, another contracts the virus; a rate less than 1 implies the pandemic is shrinking.

But more than just being vectors of infection, children around the globe have been sickened by, and in some cases died from, COVID-19.

While their numbers pale compared with the tens of thousands of dead elderly people, there are now enough children with COVID-19 that hospitals have dedicated spaces for them — including in Milan, near Rome, and in New York State, where three children age 9 and under have died, and eight of them age 10 through 19.

Source: How COVID-19’s impact on children is threatening the world’s pandemic recovery | Calgary Herald

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