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The Impact of Pediatric Asymptomatic COVID-19

How children and adolescents contract, spread, and suffer through the virus differently than other age groups.

The Pediatric COVID-19 Risk Assessment Tool, courtesy of a team from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), allows users to interpret the likelihood of asymptomatic coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) transmission among children based on constantly-updating national databases.

Though the estimated rate—which in some highly-infected US counties passes 1% of all children—is found with a good amount of statistical confidence, it doesn’t informed the effect of the virus in its youngest patients.

“It doesn’t tell us how infectious those kids are, and that still’s very much an open topic out there that we need to learn more about,” Dylan K. Chan, MD, of the UCSF Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, said.

In an interview with Contagion®, Chan discussed the current understandings of pediatric COVID-19 spread and severity—some of which has broken norm from typical respiratory infections, including that older children and adolescents are shedding more virus than younger children.

All of these discoveries made and still pursued fall in a time when public school districts and college campuses are reopening. A confident estimate of 1% asymptomatic pediatric COVID-19 cases has greater implication in that discussion than people would expect.

“To put in context: with a prevalence of 1%, if you have a class of 33 kids—that’s the standard size of a fourth grade class in San Francisco public schools—even if they’re all asymptomatic, the chance that at least 1 kid in that class would test positive for SARS-CoV-2 is roughly 30%,” Chan said. “And that’s just for one class.”

You can view the UCSF team’s asymptomatic pediatric COVID-19 model here.