Children are just as likely to contract COVID-19 as adults, but cases in minors are significantly more likely to be asymptomatic, a new study finds.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and Columbia University in New York City (NYC) collected data from participating households in Utah and NYC.
They found that age had little effect on a person’s chance of contracting the virus, with about five in 1,000 adults and children each getting sick during the study period.
However, younger people were significantly less likely to have severe symptoms from the virus, with only half of children who contracted the virus having a symptomatic case, compared with 88 percent of adults.
The study’s findings add to the growing body of evidence that children and teens are generally safer from the virus than their older peers and have a low risk of serious complications or death.
A new study finds that half of children who contracted COVID-19 had no symptoms of the virus, compared to just 12% of adults
There was little difference in the number of COVID-19 infections between different age groups, with five in 1,000 people contracting the virus
Researchers, who published their findings Friday in JAMA Pediatrics, recruited 1,236 people from 310 households.
Participants would regularly collect nasal swabs themselves to be tested for the virus between September 2020 and April 2021.
They would also fill out surveys and report possible Covid symptoms they were experiencing.
Overall, NYC participants had 7.7 positive cases per 1,000 people, twice the rate of 3.8 cases per 1,000 in Utah.
New York City has generally proven to be one of the country’s COVID-19 hotspots due to its large and dense population.
Researchers combined data from both cities and split the participants into age cohorts.
Of the children aged zero to four years, 6.3 out of 1,000 contracted the virus during the study period.
In addition, 4.4 in 1,000 children aged five to 11 and six in 1,000 children aged 12 to 17 tested positive for COVID-19.
Adults included in the study had similar Covid rates, with 5.1 in 1,000 contracting the virus.
Only children 12 years and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in the US, but many parents will not vaccinate their children, even if it is approved for all ages. Pictured: A young child was given a Covid test in Austin, Texas on Aug. 5
Although the infection rates were similar, the children who contracted the virus were much better off than their older peers.
Half of the children in the two youngest age groups, ages 0 to 4 and ages 5 to 11, had no symptoms when they contracted the virus.
Even the slightly older children in the study, those ages 12 to 17, had high rates of asymptomatic cases, with 45 percent of those infected having no symptoms.
However, the numbers were drastically different for the adults in the study.
Only 12 percent of adults in the study had asymptomatic cases because the virus is much more difficult for older people to deal with.
“A higher proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections in children were asymptomatic and likely would have gone undetected without research testing, supporting the hypothesis that [Covid] childhood infections have been significantly undervalued during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the researchers wrote.
Adults who are more at risk for symptomatic Covid cases have a valuable tool to help prevent the virus.
The COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the US and all adults are eligible for the injections.
By comparison, only children 12 years of age or older are eligible to receive it.
The relatively low severity of Covid cases among children has left many parents wondering whether they should have their children vaccinated at all, even if it becomes available.
Polls show that parents of children appear to be evenly split on whether or not to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
A survey conducted by CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine in July found 39 percent of parents said their children had already received a coronavirus shot.
However, 40 percent of parents also said it was “unlikely” that their children would be vaccinated.
Another Axios/Ipsos poll in September found that 44 percent of parents of children aged five to 11 said their children were likely to receive a vaccine and 42 percent said their children were unlikely to be vaccinated.