Children and COVID-19: The Difference Between Mainstream Media and Primary Literature

Browsing through Facebook, I saw a post that links to an article in Axios. The post has this clear conclusion:  Middle and high schoolers can spread coronavirus as effectively as adults. That, however, is not what the cited literature or study is saying.


Above copied from Axios

The following table summarizes the data from the primary literature cited by Axios

Above copied from
Park YJ, Choe YJ, Park O, Park SY, Kim YM, Kim J, et al. Contact tracing during coronavirus disease outbreak, South Korea, 2020. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Oct [downloaded 7/19/2020]. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2610.201315

The data above come from contact tracing. Children have very limited contacts presumably because of school closures. On the other hand, adults (20 years or older) have plenty of contacts. Measuring the rate of infection obviously depends on how many contacts (the denominator in %positive). The higher the number of contacts, the infection rate will appear lower. Of course, the higher number of contacts testing positive leads to a higher infection rate. The lower number of contacts from individuals 10-19 years old becomes more obvious with the following table (taken from the same paper):

Above copied from
Park YJ, Choe YJ, Park O, Park SY, Kim YM, Kim J, et al. Contact tracing during coronavirus disease outbreak, South Korea, 2020. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Oct [downloaded 7/19/2020]. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2610.201315


With the disparity in the number of contacts traced for the age group 10-19, it is not clear how one can conclude without reservation that "Middle and high schoolers can spread coronavirus as effectively as adults".

Comments

  1. 188 countries have imposed countrywide school closures, affecting more than 1.6 billion children and youth. The potential losses that may accrue in learning for today’s young generation, and for the development of their human capital, are hard to fathom.The first question to address is what role mainstream news media play in the dissemination of fake news. Although there is no empirical research directly addressing this question, it is evident that fake news and disinformation have been prominent topics in public. Children are not the face of this pandemic. But they risk being among its biggest victims, as children’s lives are nonetheless being changed in profound ways. The biggest question is What will Education Overseas Look Like After COVID-19 Pandemic?. Thanks for this beneficial article.

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