This week the Kirby Institute released a presentation from Professor Raina MacIntyre entitled The COVID19 pandemic update.
Raina MacIntyre is head of the Biosecurity Program at The Kirby Institute and NHMRC Principal Research Fellow. She has a research track record in respiratory transmissible viral infections including influenza, seasonal coronaviruses and MERS Coronavirus, and control of epidemic respiratory infections, including through vaccines and face masks.
While watching the whole update is highly recommended she shared some important research and observations related to children and schools.
What about children?
There is a whole section on children which we link to in the below tweet (and begins at 26:42 in the presentation).
Schools as a transmission vector of concern
In her concluding remarks Professor MacIntyre made the following observations:
I think if we keep schools open… My feeling is there is transmission in children. Probably if they’re asymptomatic or mild they may not be developing antibody responses but they may still be able to transmit the infection.
Kids live in families with adults so they can come home and transmit. We’ve certainly seen teachers infected in Australia and overseas and we’ve seen teachers dying in the US for example.
So I think - with every other respiratory-transmissible infection the highest rates of transmission - just based on the contact between people which is how respiratory infections transmit - the highest rate of transmission is in young people and children.
So I can’t see why it wouldn’t be the case here, and we need more research.
Q&A - 'Should we be focusing on testing and identifying cases in the younger population?
Professor MacIntyre responds in part:
Yes, yes because they're going to be the ones silently transmitting and I think the more we can test and identify cases in those younger groups [the better].
In a landscape dominated by politicised health advice and agenda-driven media voices it's refreshing to see such a considered, detailed and accessible overview from a highly qualified Australian expert.