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Children are HALF as susceptible to Covid-19 as adults and a third less likely to infect others, scientists confirm

 Adults are more than twice as susceptible to coronavirus compared to children, a mathematical study has found. 

Inhabitants of 637 households in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak were tested for Covid-19 in 2020's first wave and the data was put into a statistical model. 

It found children are 43 per cent as susceptible to Covid-19 infection as over-20s and children are 37 per cent less infectious. 


Inhabitants of 637 households in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak were tested for Covid-19 in 2020's first wave and the data was inputted into a statistical model. Previous research has found that in Israel ultra-Orthodox jews account for 12 per cent of the country's population but two-thirds of all Covid-19 infections. Pictured, ultra-orthodox Jewish men wearing masks during the third lockdown in Bnei Brak on December 31, 2020

Inhabitants of 637 households in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak were tested for Covid-19 in 2020's first wave and the data was inputted into a statistical model. Previous research has found that in Israel ultra-Orthodox jews account for 12 per cent of the country's population but two-thirds of all Covid-19 infections. Pictured, ultra-orthodox Jewish men wearing masks during the third lockdown in Bnei Brak on December 31, 2020


Children have repeatedly found to be largely unaffected by coronavirus infection during the pandemic, unlike adults. 

Children account for a minute percentage of symptomatic cases, and even less for hospitalisations and deaths.

For example data from the Office for National Statistics reports that as of January 29 there were 115,365 deaths involving Covid-19, and 27 of these were in people under 19 — 0.023 per cent.  

However, the role of children as carriers of the virus remains relatively unknown, with experts debating if they can harbour the virus and spread it while remaining asymptomatic.  

Dr Itai Dattner, lead author of the study from the University of Haifa, said: 'When we began this research, understanding children's role in transmission was a top priority, in connection with the question of reopening schools.

'It was exciting to work in a large multidisciplinary team which was assembled by the Israeli Ministry of Health to address this topic rapidly.' 

Researchers set about mapping the course of disease to determine how transmission was affected by age. 

'Most of [Bnei Brak's] residents are ultra-orthodox Jews, with large households and a young population (approximately 51 per cent under the age of 20),' the researchers write in their study, published today in PLOS Computational Biology.

'The city of Bnei Brak had the highest per capita infection rate in Israel and was the only city in Israel that was declared a “restricted area”.'

Previous research has found that in Israel ultra-Orthodox jews account for 12 per cent of the country's population but two-thirds of all Covid-19 infections.

During the study period of March, April and May 2020, the city was under lockdown and the policy was that if a suspected case emerged, all members of the house would be tested. 

A total of 3,353 people were studied who lived in the 637 households and each person was swabbed by paramedics an average of 2.5 times. 

There was an average of 1.57 infected adults per household an 0.8 infected children, despite children accounting for 54 per cent of the households. 

Antibody tests were sent out to households that met a certain criteria to further investigate the prevalence of Covid-19. 


The Israeli study found children are 43 per cent as susceptible to Covid-19 infection as over-20s and children are 37 per cent less infectious

The Israeli study found children are 43 per cent as susceptible to Covid-19 infection as over-20s and children are 37 per cent less infectious

'The criteria defined for selecting these households were: households with up to four adult (20+) members, at least two members who were negative using PCR, one of whom is an adult and the other a child (7-19), with preference for families with at least two members who were found positive using PCR,' the authors explain. 

A total of 130 households met this list of requirements and were serologically tested. 

Researchers pooled all the available data into the mathematical model to track household outbreaks and see who got infected from people they lived with.

'We estimated that the relative susceptibility of children is 43 per cent,' the researchers write. 

'The relative infectivity of children was estimated to be 63 per cent.'

The researchers also found that children are more likely than adults to receive a negative PCR result despite actually being infected.

Dr Dattner said: 'These findings could explain worldwide reports that a lower proportion of children are diagnosed compared to adults.

'They could help inform mathematical modelling of Covid-19 dynamics, public health policy, and control measures.'

Future computational research could explore transmission dynamics in other settings, such as nursing homes and schools. 

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