Children are less like to spread Coronavirus because they only release a quarter of the virus particles that adults do, according to study focused on eight to ten year olds
- A German study finds that children release significantly less COVID-19 virus aerosol particles than adults
- Researchers tested particle release rates in children aged eight to ten and compared it to that of adults when breathing, speaking, singing or shouting
- Aerosol rates were only similar between children and adults when shouting
- The study indicates that children are less likely to spread the virus than adults are
Children release a much lower volume of COVID-19 aerosol particles than adults, potentially reducing their ability to transmit the virus, a new study finds.
Researchers from the University of Berlin, in Germany, found that, on average, children release less Covid particles into the air, especially when they are breathing, speaking or singing.
Experts believe that people who release lower amounts of aerosol particles when speaking have smaller viral loads, which also means they do not spread the virus at the same level.
The findings have big implications on schools and other events and activities mainly populated by children, as Covid transmission may be less of a risk than expected – even when children are no using masks.
Researchers found that when children (orange) breath, speak or sing, the emit less Covid aerosol particles than adults (blue) do. Particle rates were similar when test subjects shouted, though
Some states like New York and Delaware still require children to wear face masks despite them facing little risk from the virus. The German study finds that they are likely transmitting the virus at lower rates as well. Pictured: A child wears a face mask and shield at the Lynwood, California, school on January 12
Researchers, who published their findings Wednesday in The Journal of the Royal Society, gathered data from 15 adults and 15 children for the study.
The children included 11 boys and four girls, all of which were between the ages of eight and ten years old.
All of the children, and all of the adults – which were aged between 23 and 64 – are a part of professional or semi-professional choirs.
They put each participant into an enclosed environment, and had each breath, speak, sing and shout before researchers would gather an measure particle emission and volume.
The researchers found that when breathing, speaking or singing, the child group was on average spreading a much lower rate of aerosols than the adult groups.
When shouting, though, similar viral loads were found in children and adults.
The actual implications of this study can not be fully determined, but it does seem to indicate that children have smaller viral loads than adults – and hence spread the virus at lower rates.
This would have far reaching implications on how the pandemic is treated going forward, especially in some U.S. schools where children are still required to wear masks.
Masks in schools have become one of the most controversial topics in America in recent weeks, with detractors saying the face-coverings hurt a child’s ability to communicate with peers during key social development ages.
Many states have lifted their school mask mandates in recent weeks, as the Omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge has all but fully receded nationwide.
Some, though, still force children to wear face coverings in school despite lifting mask mandates in all other public places – like New York and Delaware.
Even when children do catch Covid, the risk that they face from the virus is especially small.
Young people are among the least likely demographics to contract or fall fatally ill from the disease, leading to questions why vaccine or mask mandates would be implemented on children in schools.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that children make up less than 0.1 percent of deaths from the virus since the pandemic began in early 2020.
A study performed last autumn by the researchers at the University of Utah – before the more mild Omicron variant arrived – found that half of pediatric Covid cases were asymptomatic.