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The claim that children cannot catch or transmit the COVID-19 virus is inaccurate

by - June 18, 2020   602 Views   2 min
The claim that children cannot catch or transmit the COVID-19 virus is inaccurate

Claim

Healthy children up to 10 years of age cannot contract Covid-19 or infect others

Verdict

Inaccurate (no factual basis; unacceptable margin of error)

Switzerland's head of infectious diseases, Dr. Daniel Koch, recently indicated that healthy children up to 10 years of age would not be at risk of contracting COVID-19 and infecting the elderly. He also indicated that there would be nothing to fear if children come into physical contact with elderly people, such as their grandparents. Daniel Koch's statement is inaccurate.

Distinction between contraction, transmission, and severity of the disease 

To understand our verdict, it is important to distinguish between the concepts of contraction, transmission, and effects of the disease. Indeed, based on statistics from around the world, national and international health authorities agree that children can get COVID-19 (contraction), spread it to others (transmission), but appear to be less affected (effects) by the disease than the elderly or those with underlying chronic diseases.

In its press conference of 29 April 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that there is no reason to indicate that children are less likely to contract and transmit the COVID-19 virus. Although children are less affected by COVID-19, according to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove of WHO, it is still necessary to be vigilant with the elderly, and therefore avoid physical contact with them. 

Experts at the Mayo Clinic agree: children can contract COVID-19. In most cases, their symptoms will not be as severe as those of adults, but the fact remains that many children around the world have died from the disease. In addition, children who contract the virus sometimes have no symptoms at all. This makes it difficult to detect the presence of COVID-19 in young children - making physical distancing between children and the elderly even more important, unless local health authorities advise otherwise. 

Anyone can get the COVID-19 virus according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, although those most at risk are those 65 years of age and older. It is therefore essential to limit contact with people at risk, such as seniors.  

Dr. Koch's comments are inaccurate, hence our verdict. Children have no natural immunity to COVID-19. They can catch and transmit the disease. However, it appears that in most cases the symptoms of the disease in children are much less severe than in adults. 

Severe cases of illness in children 

Although most young people with COVID-19 are less affected, there are exceptions. As of May 2020, WHO confirms that reports from Europe and North America have described groups of children and adolescents who have been admitted to intensive care units for hyperinflammatory syndrome and multi-organ failure, potentially related to COVID-19. WHO has asked hospitals to report and describe these cases in a global database in order to learn more about this situation.

Who to believe? 

To avoid transmission of the COVID-19 virus in society, especially among our elders, it is necessary to rely on the guidelines given by local, national and international health authorities. These guidelines may differ from one locality to another depending on the epidemiological picture of the locality and may change depending on the urgency of the situation in each location. If you have doubts about the veracity of a statement, you can consult the sites of reliable and recognized health authorities. Dr Koch has since retired.


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  Claim

Dr Daniel Koch

Person
Healthy children up to 10 years of age cannot contract Covid-19 or infect others

Verdict:

Inaccurate (no factual basis; unacceptable margin of error)

 June 18, 2020


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