Children can carry the coronavirus in their noses and throats for weeks, even if they show no symptoms, according to a study in South Korea.
“In this case series study, inapparent infections in children may be associated with silent transmission of Covid-19 in the community,” says the study published Friday in JAMA.
The study findings coincide with data in adults, a population in which up to 40% are asymptomatic; said Dr. Roberta DeBiasi and Dr. Meghan Delaney of the National Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC.
The study authors estimate that 85 of the infected children (93%) would not have been detected if a strategy focused on patients with symptoms was used.
The study comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came under fire for changing its guidelines around testing asymptomatic patients.
In the new guidelines, the CDC says that people without symptoms do not need to be tested, even if they have had close contact with someone they know has coronavirus.
On Friday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said these modifications are a “dangerous step backward” and the evidence from this new study supports the argument.
Due to the nature of the asymptomatic spread of Covid-19, testing patients who do not show symptoms is very important to stop the increase in new cases.
“We know that children often show little or no symptoms of Covid-19. We also know that they are not immune to the virus and can become seriously ill, ”said Dr. Sally Goza, president of the AAP, in a statement.
“Testing exposed individuals who may not yet show symptoms for Covid-19 is crucial for contact tracing, which helps identify and support other people at risk of infection,” Goza said.