A new study shows children are half as likely to grow and produce the COVID-19 virus than adults.

The University of Manitoba (UM), pairing with the Cadham Provincial Laboratory, Manitoba Health and Seniors Care and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory, conducted a study to see how children stacked up against adults when it comes to spreading COVID-19.

Dr. Jared Bullard, an associate professor of pediatrics/child health and medical microbiology/infectious diseases at Max Rady College of Medicine with the University of Manitoba says the findings of the study she was the principal investigator of has important public health and clinical implications.

As an associate medical director with Cadham Provincial Laboratory, she was able to sample 175 children from infancy to 17-years-old and 130 adults who were COVID-19 positive, looking at transmission rates.

"If younger children are less capable of transmitting infectious viruses, child daycare, in-person school and cautious extracurricular activities may be safe to continue, with appropriate precautions in place, with lower risk to childcare staff, educators and support staff than initially anticipated," she says. 

Fourteen researchers joined her, using cell cultures of nasopharyngeal swabs, to determine if children were more infectious. They deturned that with children the virus was half as likely compared to adults to grow on cell culture. They also found children produced less COVID-19.

“As an increasing number of jurisdictions consider whether in-school learning, daycares and extracurricular activities should continue or resume, a better understanding of the relative contributions of children and adolescents to forward transmission of COVID-19 when compared with adults, is essential," Bullard writes in her published study.

The doctor says knowing they are less likely to transmit the virus is an essential understanding because children are more likely to be asymptomatic.