Incidence Rates of SARS-CoV-2 Similar for Children and Adults

Coronavirus COVID-19 computer generated image.
More infections asymptomatic among children, with 52 percent asymptomatic among those aged 0 to 4 years versus 12 percent in adults.

HealthDay News — The incidence rates of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection are similar for children and adults, but more infections among children are asymptomatic, according to a study published online Oct. 8 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Fatimah S. Dawood, M.D., from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues compared incidence rates and clinical characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 infection among adults and children in households in Utah and New York City. Participants or adult caregivers of child participants collected midturbinate nasal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 testing and responded to questionnaires about symptoms each week from September 2020 through April 2021. Data were included for 1,236 participants in 310 households of whom 176, 313, 163, and 584 were aged 0 to 4, 5 to 11, 12 to 17, and 18 years or older.

The researchers found that in the Utah and New York City cohorts, the overall incidence rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection were 3.8 and 7.7 per 1,000 person-weeks, respectively. By age group, the site-adjusted incidence rates per 1,000 person-weeks were similar: 6.3, 4.4, 6.0, and 5.1 for those aged 0 to 4, 5 to 11, 12 to 17, and 18 years or older. The fractions of asymptomatic infection by age group were 52, 50, 45, and 12 percent, respectively. The mean risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection among all enrolled household members was 52 percent among 40 households with one or more SARS-CoV-2 infections, with higher risks in New York City versus Utah (80 versus 44 percent).

“Children are not only capable of becoming infected, but are also capable of transmitting SARS-CoV-2,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

One author disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text