Is there an association between paediatric age and the household transmission of SARS COV-2 Infection?


Published on MedED:  23 August 21
Type of article:
Investigative Study Summary
MedED Catalogue Reference: MPN001
Compiler: Linda Ravenhill
Sources: JAMA Pediatrics, SAMRC

The rise in cases of COVID-19 infections in paediatric patients continues across the globe, taking many by surprise. Here in South Africa, we are no different. 

According to the South African Medical Research Council’s Monthly COVID-19 in children surveillance report, for the period 01 Mar 2020 - 19 Jun 2021, children accounted for  13.3% of COVID-19 tests over the period, 10.2% of all cases, 4.2% of admissions and 0.7% of in-deaths in South Africa.The report found that children younger than 1 year, those aged 15-19 years and those with underlying conditions were over-represented among deaths from the virus. A higher occurance was additionally evidenced in male children.3 

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, very little focus was placed on its incidence among young children and teenagers. There were relatively few reported cases, and the incidence of transmission was thought to be low. Consequently, very few studies exist for the disease within the paediatric population.

An original investigation, published in Jama Pediatrics this week (16 August 21) seeks to address this issue, investigating the transmission of SARS COV-2 within households with children.The study took place in Ontario Canada, during the period June 1 and December 31 2020, and sought to determine: “Are there differences in the odds of household transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by younger children compared with older children?” 1

The study’s findings suggest that younger children may be more likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with older children, and the highest odds of transmission was observed for children aged 0 to 3 years.1

As the cases of paediatric infections continue to rise in South Africa, note should be taken of this finding, and the report called for more studies to be conducted

1. Paul , L., Daneman, N., Schwartz , K., & et al. (Published online August 16, 2021). Association of Age and Pediatric Household Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Infection. JAMA Pediatr. doi:doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.2770
2. South African Medical Council. (n.d.). COVID-19 in children. Retrieved August 23, 2021, from South African Medical Council:
3. Tendesayi, K. (2021). Monthly COVID-19 in children surveillance report, for the period 01 Mar 2020 - 19 Jun 2021. National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Centre for HIV and STIs. South African Medical Research Council. Retrieved August 23, 2021, from South African Medical Research Council

Contributor: Linda Ravenhill
Linda Ravenhill is a medical professional with an MA in Journalism. She has worked in the medical, technology and digital development spaces for over 25 years, & has a particular interest in the impact of technology on the delivery of healthcare in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

This article is compiled from a variety of resources researched and compiled by the contributor. It is in no way presented as an original work.  Every effort has been made to correctly attribute quotes and content. Where possible all information has been independently verified. The Medical Education Network bears no responsibility for any inaccuracies which may occur from the use of third-party sources. If you have any queries regarding this article contact us 

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