Children are less likely to spread the coronavirus because they shed only a quarter of the virus particles than adults, according to a study on children between the ages of eight and ten.
- A German study found that children shed significantly fewer aerosol particles of the COVID-19 virus than adults.
- The researchers tested the particle emission rate in children aged eight to ten and compared it to that of adults when breathing, talking, singing or shouting.
- The level of aerosols was the same in children and adults only when crying.
- The study shows that children are less likely to spread the virus than adults.
A new study has found that children shed much less COVID-19 aerosol particles than adults, potentially reducing their ability to transmit the virus.
Researchers at the University of Berlin in Germany found that, on average, children release fewer Covid particles into the air, especially when they breathe, talk or sing.
Experts believe that people who emit fewer airborne particles while talking have a lower viral load, which also means they don’t shed the virus at the same level.
The findings are of great importance for schools and other events and activities that primarily involve children, as the risk of Covid transmission may be less than expected even when children do not use masks.
The researchers found that when children (orange) breathe, talk or sing, they emit fewer Covid aerosol particles than adults (blue). However, the speed of the particles was the same when the subjects were screaming.
The researchers, who published their findings on Wednesday in The Journal of the Royal Society, collected data from 15 adults and 15 children for the study.
Among the children were 11 boys and four girls aged eight to ten years.
All children and all adults between the ages of 23 and 64 are members of professional or semi-professional choirs.
They placed each participant in a closed environment and each breathed, spoke, sang and screamed before the researchers could measure the particle emission and volume.
The researchers found that when breathing, talking, or singing, the children’s group emitted, on average, a much lower aerosol velocity than the adult groups.
However, when screaming, children and adults were found to have similar viral loads.
The actual implications of this study cannot be fully determined, but it appears to indicate that children have a lower viral load than adults and therefore spread the virus at a slower rate.
This will have far-reaching implications for the continued treatment of the pandemic, especially in some US 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 face masks prevent a child from interacting with peers at a key age of social development.
Many states have lifted mandatory school mask requirements in recent weeks as the COVID-19 outbreak caused by Omicron has almost completely subsided across the country.
Some, however, still force children to wear face masks at school, despite the fact that all other public places, such as New York and Delaware, require masks to be removed.
Even when children become infected with Covid, they are at especially low risk of contracting the virus.
Young people are among the group least likely to contract or become fatally ill from the disease, raising questions about why vaccination or mask-wearing requirements would apply to children in schools.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that children account for less than 0.1 percent of deaths from the virus since the pandemic began in early 2020.
A study last fall by researchers at the University of Utah – before a milder version of Omicron was available – found that half of Covid cases in children are asymptomatic.