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Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection Low in Young Children

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17, 2021 -- Among young children, the prevalence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is low, according to a study published online Feb. 8 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Eric Lachassinne, M.D., from the Hôpital Jean Verdier in Bondy, France, and colleagues conducted a seroprevalence survey among children and staff who attended one of 22 day care centers during a nationwide lockdown in France (March 15 to May 9, 2020). A comparator group included hospital staff not occupationally exposed to patients with COVID-19 or to children. The primary outcome was SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence; antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were measured in capillary whole blood specimens.

The researchers enrolled 327 children, 197 day care center staff, and 164 adults in the comparator group. Fourteen children and 14 day care center staff had positive serological tests (raw seroprevalence, 4.3 and 7.7 percent, respectively). An estimated 3.7 and 6.8 percent of children and day care center staff, respectively, had SARS-CoV-2 infection after accounting for imperfect sensitivity and specificity of the assay. The comparator group had similar seroprevalence to the day care center staff, with nine participants having a positive serological test (raw prevalence, 5.5 percent), leading to seroprevalence of 5.0 percent. Seropositive children were more likely to have been exposed to an adult household member with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 than seronegative children (43 versus 6 percent; relative risk, 7.1).

"The present results indicate that young children are not super-spreaders of SARS-CoV-2 and that daycare centers are not major foci of viral contagion," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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