FRIDAY, July 10, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Children are mainly infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in familial clusters, suggesting that transmission in schools is likely to be less than expected and that school closures are not necessary, according to a study and accompanying editorial published online July 10 in Pediatrics.

Klara M. Posfay-Barbe, M.D., from the University of Geneva in Switzerland, and colleagues describe the clinical presentation of pediatric cases of COVID-19 and the dynamics of their familial clusters. The researchers found that 40 from a total of 4,310 SARS-CoV-2 cases in Geneva were aged <16 years (0.9 percent). Familial cluster evaluation revealed four household members per family. In 79 percent of cases, adult household contacts were suspected or confirmed with COVID-19 prior to the child; in 8 percent of households, the study child developed symptoms prior to any other household contact.

In an accompanying editorial, Benjamin Lee, M.D., and William V. Raszka Jr., M.D., from the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine in Burlington, discuss the implications of these study findings. The authors note that transmission in schools may be less important in community transmission than initially feared, providing reassurance that school-based transmission could be manageable and school closures may not be needed. In addition, mathematical models suggest that school closures alone may be insufficient to halt epidemic spread and may only have modest effects.

“The data are striking,” Raszka said in a statement. “The key takeaway is that children are not driving the pandemic. After six months, we have a wealth of accumulating data showing that children are less likely to become infected and seem less infectious.”

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