MINNEAPOLIS — A new study that was published in the Journal of Pediatrics this week is adding support to the idea that kids can be COVID-19 “super spreaders” even if they don't have symptoms.
"It's unfortunately, a bit of a perfect storm,” Dr. Stacene Maroushek says.
Maroushek is a pediatric infectious disease expert at Hennepin Healthcare.
She sees a lot of kids and a lot of COVID, and she isn't surprised to see there’s a unique connection between them.
"The kids are not getting that sick with coronavirus and you may not know that they're shedding or spreading virus," Dr. Maroushek says.
The study itself was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Researchers tested 192 kids for COVID-19.
Forty-nine children tested positive, but about half of those children were asymptomatic, they didn’t even have a fever.
The study showed some of the children, despite having minor symptoms or no symptoms at all, actually had very high levels of the virus in their system.
Some of these levels were even higher than the levels in some of the adults who were experiencing severe symptoms in the intensive care unit.
"For some reason this virus really isn't triggering a very vigorous immune response in kids and so the virus is really going unchecked," Dr. Maroushek says.
She says this is why some doctors are worried about kids going back to school.
Most of the kids will be fine, but the kids might take the virus home to mom and dad, or grandma and grandpa, or a vulnerable friend or neighbor.
She says this shouldn't scare families away from in-person learning, but it should be in the back of their minds.
"We're all very tired of the COVID isolation right now. I mean, we're in this sort of isolation fatigue already, but I think once the kids go back to school, you're going to need to double down on that."
The children in the study ranged from zero to 22-years old and researchers say the amount of virus in their system didn't change much with their age.
However, doctors are more concerned about teenagers and young adults who have more freedom to roam around the community and may spread the virus at higher levels when compared to other age groups.