Is the new strain of COVID-19 more infectious for children?

December 23, 2020
Lois Levine

Several reports coming out of the United Kingdom are suggesting that the newest variant of COVID-19 might be more infectious for children.

As if new surges of COVID-19 along with a new variant of the virus aren't bad news enough, troubling reports from the United Kingdom are now suggesting that this new strain could be more infectious to children than the original virusnei.

The British government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) notes that this new variant "has a transmission advantage over other virus variants currently in the UK," said Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases at Oxford University and chair of Nervtag. Neil Ferguson, another Nervtag member noted, "there is a hint that it has a higher propensity to infect children."

The new variant, labeled VUI-202012/01, might be 50%-70% more infectious than the previous virus. Ferguson noted, "what we've seen over the course of a 5 or 6-week period is that the variant in under 15 [year olds] was significantly higher than the non-variant virus." The original strain of COVID-19 may have not spread so easily to children because, one theory suggests, children have fewer of the doorways called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor that the virus uses to enter a human's cells. Professor Wendy Barclay, another Nervtag member said the mutuation of the virus seem to be making it easier to breach those doorways.

The scientists all agreed, though, that more data needed to be drawn before any conclusions could be reached.