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Does the new COVID-19 mutation spread more easily in children?

Health officials continue to investigate the new coronavirus mutation, which has shown hints of spreading among children

Workers wearing protective gears disinfect chairs as a precaution against the coronavirus at the arrival hall of the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020.
Workers wearing protective gears disinfect chairs as a precaution against the coronavirus at the arrival hall of the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020.
Kim Sun-woong, Newsis via Associated Press

Scientists have begun investigating whether the new variant of the novel coronavirus can spread more easily among children, BBC News reports.

What’s going on?

The British government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats advisory group (Nervtag) recently suggested that the new COVID-19 variant could spread easier among children.

In fact, a new study from the U.K. by Imperial College said that the new COVID-19 mutation spreads faster and affects younger people.

  • An examination of the virus showed “that the Variant of Concern (VOC) has higher transmissibility than non-VOC lineages, even if the VOC has a different latent period or generation time. Available SGTF data indicate a shift in the age composition of reported cases, with a larger share of under 20-year-olds among reported VOC than non-VOC cases.”

The research continues:

Professor Wendy Barclay, from Nervtag and Imperial College London, told BBC News that the new COVID-19 mutation could put children on a ”more level playing field” with adults as far as the virus spreading. But more research needs to be done.

  • “Therefore children are equally susceptible, perhaps, to this virus as adults, and therefore given their mixing patterns, you would expect to see more children being infected.”

Neil Ferguson from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, who also sits on Nervtag, told BBC News that there are “hints that it has a higher propensity to infect children.”

  • “If it were true, then this might explain a significant proportion, maybe even the majority, of the transmission increase seen,” he added.

Scientists who work with the COG-UK, the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium, said they haven’t seen any evidence yet that the new mutation spreads easier among children.