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Young Children Have Higher Amounts of SARS-CoV-2 RNA

THURSDAY, July 30, 2020 -- Young children with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 have higher amounts of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral RNA in their nasopharynx than older children and adults, according to a research letter published online July 30 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Taylor Heald-Sargent, M.D., Ph.D., from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, and colleagues compared three groups of patients with mild-to-moderate illness within one week of symptom onset who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2: 46 young children (<5 years), 51 older children (aged 5 to 17 years), and 48 adults (aged 18 to 65 years). Polymerase chain reaction amplification cycle threshold (CT) values were recorded; lower values indicated higher amounts of viral nucleic acid.

The researchers found that the median CT values were similar for older children and adults (11.1 and 11.0, respectively), while values were lower for young children (6.5). These differences approximate a 10- to 100-fold greater amount of SARS-CoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract of young children. In the overall cohort and each subgroup, there was a very weak correlation between symptom duration and CT.

"Thus, young children can potentially be important drivers of SARS-CoV-2 spread in the general population, as has been demonstrated with respiratory syncytial virus, where children with high viral loads are more likely to transmit," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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Posted: July 2020