Implications of the Age Profile of the Novel Coronavirus

What role do children play in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2?

  • iconMental and physical health
  • iconInfection and infection control

Michael Mina, William Hanage,

The role of children in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 remains unclear, and existing data are yet to provide a consistent explanation for the markedly skewed age distribution of COVID-19 cases. Whereas early data from symptomatic case confirmations suggested a lack of disease in children, subsequent contact tracing studies have found that children are likely to be infected. Governments are now facing immense pressure to weigh the public health benefit of interventions such as school closure against the significant economic disruption they impose. To motivate the discussion of age-stratified social distancing measures, Michael Mina and Bill Hanage discuss potential biological mechanisms by which a skewed age distribution of cases may be generated and show through mathematical modeling how different age-targeted interventions are likely to affect the epidemic final size. They propose that identifying age-dependent transmissibility, in addition to susceptibility, will be essential to understand which social distancing measures are likely to be the most impactful going forward.

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