Analyzing COVID-19 Susceptibility for a Safe Back to School

How do children transmit SARS-CoV-2? This COVID-19 study aims to answer this question by analyzing pediatric age cases in school like environments


How does the coronavirus affect children in a school-like environment?
To obtain data on the transmission of COVID-19 in the classroom, the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona has analyzed PCR samples from 1,700 children and 400 monitors during the weeks of the summer campus.

Description of the Study:

  • Title: Susceptibility to COVID-19 in Pediatric Age: Study of Cases in School-like Environments.
  • Principal Investigator: Iolanda Jordan.
  • Co-Investigators: Research teams at SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital, Fundació Sant Joan de Déu (FSJD), ISGlobal Barcelona Institute for Global Health, UPC-BIOCOMSC and FC Barcelona.
  • Centres of Implementation: Standard summer schools including Thau and the FC Barcelona Training camp.
  • Study Population: Three groups were studied: one of them of children, from 3 to 15 years old, attending the summer schools and sports camps. Another of adults of any age (≥16 years old) working at the summer schools and sports camps as caregivers or in any other role in direct contact with children (staff). And finally, a parents/family group.
  • Study Type: Prospective longitudinal observational cohort study.
  • Design: The project uses different sources to find potential index cases:

    1. 22 standard summer schools (n = 1905). In one, Thau summer school, both saliva and nasopharyngeal samples are collected for comparison (n =  257).
    2. Symptomatic cases from 19 other summer schools and sports camps detected through epidemiological test and trace systems from the Department of Health (Generalitat de Catalunya) (n = 30).
    3. Football Club (FC) Barcelona ‘Barça’ training camp (n = 185 children and 26 staff).

    The positive cases are followed up using specific projects: contacts study and infectivity study.

Objectives of the Study:

Principal Objective: Determine how do children transmit SARS-CoV-2 compared with adults.

Secondary Objectives: Answer the questions:
(1) Do children transmit SARS-CoV-2 and to what extent?
(2) How do children transmit SARS-CoV-2 compared with adults? Do they have the same or higher or lower transmission rates than adults?
(3)What are the transmission rates of children and adults infected with SARS-CoV-2 in a school-like environment such as a summer school or sports camp?
(4) How do PCR results from different samples (e.g. saliva, nasopharyngeal swab, among others) compare? Can samples that were taken less invasively (e.g. from saliva) be used to obtain an equally accurate diagnosis as other samples?

More about this Study:

Context: More than 100 countries in the world closed their schools around mid-March 2020 as a preventive measure to reduce infection and mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas the effectiveness of school closures in preventing SARS-CoV-2 spreading has been questioned, as children seem to transmit COVID-19 less than adults do, the negative impact on children has been very significant, from limiting their academic learning to increasing social inequalities and the risk of developing mental health problems.

Moreover, school closures and strict home confinement measures enacted worldwide limited the collection of transmission data in children, enabling only studies based on very low case numbers that may not represent transmission dynamics in bigger groups. Thus, studies of large cohorts in school-like environments are needed to elucidate whether children transmit SARS-CoV-2 and to what extent at the school level, as the results will be key to guide policy-makers and develop strategies for schools and children in general.

Kids Corona: The platform, which the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital launched last April, continues to offer answers to better understand the incidence, impact, and transmission capacity of COVID-19 in children and pregnant women.

Other Kids Corona Projects: « SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion during the postoperative period in pediatric patients« , « Identifying SARS-CoV-2 in breast milk as a potential means of vertical transmission« , « Susceptibility to COVID-19 in pediatric age: Study of cases and household contacts » and « Characterization of COVID-19 in the Pediatric Population: Study of Sero-surveillance and of Immunological and Biochemical Biomarkers of Disease Severity »

Sant Joan Compressio
BIOCOMSC
FC Barcelona

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