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Barcelona study: Covid transmission from children to adults they live with is “low”

Only 3 of 89 children with virus were identified as the trigger for outbreak in their families

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31 August 2020 05:28 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

An epidemiological study led by Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Barcelona has concluded that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from children to their relatives is "low".

The investigation, which followed up on children who had a confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis during lockdown, showed that the child could be "clearly" identified as the trigger for the family outbreak in only three out of 89 cases. Of those three cases, two involved 17-year-olds while the other was five years of age.

The study analyzed 89 families where children received a confirmed diagnosis in Catalonia between 1 March and 31 May.

In 50 of the families, researchers identified that the index patient (the transmitter) was an adult - either a member of the family or from outside the family - while in only three cases was the child the origin case. In 36 families the transmission pattern could not be defined and therefore the study could not rule out that a child could be the transmitter in those cases.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Pere Soler, head of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases unit at the hospital admitted that the study had some "limitations", such as knowing whether the transmission pattern observed also applies in the case of asymptomatic children.

Only 6% of contacts were hospitalized and four people required admission to intensive care, but in most cases there were no elderly people living with the children, leading Soler to point out that families should maintain "maximum [safety] measures" if, for example, grandparents are picking up children from school.

Back to school

According to Soler, who coordinated the study, the data can give some peace of mind ahead of schools reopening.

"Going back to school is a necessity, I say that as a pediatrician," Soler said.

Zero risk, he added, "does not exist and will not exist" in schools, as it is assumed that there will be some cases.

However, he also said that with the data available, it can be said that reopening schools "is not a special risk activity."

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  • Pere Soler, head of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases unit at Vall d'Hebron Hospital (by Blanca Blay)

  • Pere Soler, head of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases unit at Vall d'Hebron Hospital (by Blanca Blay)

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