Rate of corona lower in children but can still carry virus and infect adults, Israeli research shows

Israeli study contradicts World Health Organization, shows children are less susceptible to coronavirus but can still carry the virus and infect others, although at a lower rate. 

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

An Israeli study showed that children are infected by the coronavirus as well as infecting others at lower rates than adults, contradicting findings from the World Health Organization.

A report released Thursday by the Health Ministry gave results of an epidemiology study carried out on 2,823 people from 562 families in the city of Bnei Brak, which had one of the highest infection rates in the country.

Researchers from the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer found that in families in which at least one member was infected, “children are less likely to become ill, but their chances of becoming ill increase with age.”

That finding contradicts the World Health Organization, which currently says on its website that “research indicates that children and adolescents are just as likely to become infected as any other age group and can spread the disease.”

Conducted on behalf of Israel’s health ministry, the study also found that babies up to one year old are more likely to become ill than other children in the family. Researchers postulated that infants require close care from their parents and often breastfeed, and in the population they checked, most infected infants had a parent sick with coronavirus.

Although the researchers cautioned that their results were preliminary and more research was needed, the study showed children were 20-50 percent less likely to get infected, but infants and older children were more susceptible.

Based on their sample group, children appear to be 20-75 percent less likely than adults to infect other people, the report found.

The study acknowledged that “the impact of the education system on the spread of the epidemic may be significant… We recommend that decision-makers take precautionary steps.”

Researchers recommended a gradual return to studies with an intensive monitoring and control system, especially keeping track of the issue of the ability of children to infect others.

On Friday, the government assessed the current situation, in which the coronavirus infection rate in Israel has dropped dramatically, and decided to re-open grades 1-3 and 11-12 beginning on Sunday, along with those in special education classes and grades 7-11 in the ultra-Orthodox education system.

“It was decided to resume the education system’s activities, in compliance with all sanitary conditions set by the Ministry of Health,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office tweeted.

The government put off until next week a decision on reopening kindergartens and other grades and said another situation reassessment would be taken with hopes of opening schools for those children on May 10.