Research suggests children mostly catch COVID-19 from adults, not other kids
VANCOUVER -- New research suggests kids are more likely to catch COVID-19 from the adults in their lives than other children.
The latest findings from the Netherlands come as many B.C. parents are considering whether to send their kids to summer camp during the third phase of the province's pandemic response.
On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the evidence to date also indicates that young children, particularly those under the age of 10, are less likely to transmit the virus to adults than they are to catch it from adults.
"There's growing accumulation of evidence that children do sometimes pass it on to each other but for the most part, children get it from adults," Henry said. "They don't seem to be as affected by it – they don't seem to have a severe illness – and they don't seem to pass it on to adults as effectively."
Some children did test positive for COVID-19 during the few weeks that B.C. reopened classrooms before the end of the school year, but Henry said she's not aware of any evidence that they caught the virus on school grounds.
"Most of the transmission to children has been from a family member – an adult to the child – in those close contact family situation," she said.
A summary of the findings from the Netherlands, published through the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, said that overall, children appear to "play a minor role" in transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Using contact-tracing data, researchers looked at 10 different COVID-19 patients who were under the age of 18. They were found to have had 43 close contacts combined, and none ultimately caught the virus.
By comparison, when it came to patients who were 18 and older, researchers found about eight per cent of their close contacts became ill.
"In clusters of patients, adults are almost always the source patient," the summary goes on to say.
Dr. Henry said parents should still think carefully about how many people their children come into contact with, particularly if there are vulnerable seniors or people with compromised immune systems their lives.
"It's never absolute so you do need to be careful," she said. "We need to make sure that if your children are going out, going to school, going to play dates or summer camps that you check them carefully, make sure that they're not sick, that nobody else is sick in that environment and that they keep the group small."