Older children spread the coronavirus just as much as adults, large study finds

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Students, parents and teachers of Cheondong Elementary School in Daejeon, South Korea, got tested in early July after two students were found to be infected with the virus. Credit: Yonhap, via EPA, via Shutterstock

(Apoorva Mandavilli/ New York Times) — In the heated debate over reopening schools, one burning question has been whether and how efficiently children can spread the virus to others.

A large new study from South Korea offers an answer: Children younger than 10 transmit to others much less often than adults do, but the risk is not zero. And those between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do.

The findings suggest that as schools reopen, communities will see clusters of infection take root that include children of all ages, several experts cautioned.

“I fear that there has been this sense that kids just won’t get infected or don’t get infected in the same way as adults and that, therefore, they’re almost like a bubbled population,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota.

“There will be transmission,” Dr. Osterholm said. “What we have to do is accept that now and include that in our plans.” (…)

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