Most children with COVID-19 infection experience mild symptoms or remain asymptomatic, suggests a new report from the Imperial College London (ICL).
Report 37 from ICL's COVID-19 Response Team highlights the findings from a systematic review of 128 studies, 29 of which were considered for a meta-analysis. Most of the included studies involved children tested as contacts of COVID-19 patients.
The majority of the children experienced mild symptoms of COVID-19 disease and only 3.8 per cent of children experienced severe or critical symptoms. Twenty-one per cent of infected children remained asymptomatic.
No studies assessing the transmissibility in children were identified and susceptibility to COVID-19 infection in children was found to be highly variable across studies.
Steven Riley, Professor of Infectious Disease Dynamics at ICL said: "We were unable to find any reliable evidence as to how likely children are to be a source of infection compared to adults." The authors call for more detailed contact-tracing studies along with studies assessing COVID-19 antibody levels to estimate children’s transmissibility relative to adults.
“This remains an open question that affects the key policy question of whether and when to close schools as an intervention against community transmission,” Prof Riley added.