The data has now been published in the journal “Science”: German virologist Christian Drosten continues to assess the risk of infection from children infected with the Coronavirus.
“My initial impression that almost all age groups are contagious has been confirmed, not only here, but also in other studies,” a coronavirus expert in Berlin said, according to a statement from Charité on Tuesday.
For the study published Tuesday afternoon, Drosten scientists identified the so-called viral loads, that is, the amount of virus genes in a PCR sample, of more than 25,000 Covid-19 cases. “The copies of the genetic material roughly represent the amount of virus in the patient’s throat, and thus allow predicting the possibility of possible infection,” Sharetti said.
People without signs of disease as well as patients with symptoms of varying severity were included even hospital cases. In adults between the ages of 20 and 65 years, “there were no statistically significant differences” in the viral load. In samples of younger children aged 0 to 5 years, the lowest viral loads were found, and the values in older children and adolescents became more similar to those of adults with advancing age.
Drosten argues that children’s values are affected by a different type of sampling compared to adults: significantly smaller swabs are used that fetch less than half the amount of sample material. Instead of painful deep nasopharyngeal swabs, simple throat swabs are often done, as there are fewer viruses. Therefore, fewer readings of the viral load in children would be expected from the start.
Drosten had already provided the first assessments of viral loads over a year ago, which have yet to be checked by independent experts. These have also received much attention in the debate around school and kindergarten openings.