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The role of children in the transmission of COVID-19 – a rapid review

The findings in this memo is based on rapid searches in the PubMed-database. A single researcher has gone through the search hits, selected, critically assessed, and summarised the study findings. We opted for this approach despite an inherent risk of overlooking key evidence or making misguided judgements, due to the urgency of identifying research findings relevant to the following questions.

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The findings in this memo is based on rapid searches in the PubMed-database. A single researcher has gone through the search hits, selected, critically assessed, and summarised the study findings. We opted for this approach despite an inherent risk of overlooking key evidence or making misguided judgements, due to the urgency of identifying research findings relevant to the following questions.


Key message

The findings in this memo are based on rapid searches in the PubMed-database. A single researcher has gone through the search hits, selected, critically assessed, and summarised the study findings. We opted for this approach despite an inherent risk of overlooking key evidence or making misguided judgements, due to the urgency of identifying research findings relevant to the following questions.

Does SARS-CoV-2 infect children?

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been detected in many children, also in Norway, so there is no doubt that also children are infected. So far, children seem less prone to infection than adults are.

Do they become ill?

Reports from China and South Korea document that infected children may fall ill from the virus, and display typical signs of COVID-19 such as fever and airway symptoms.

Are children as affected as adults are?

Reports from China strongly suggest that children with Covid-19 in general experience milder symptoms than adults do, and there are very few registered deaths among children. Also relatively few children need intensive care.

Do children transmit the virus? If so, to who? Their parents? Other children?

We have found five documented cases of likely spread of disease from children, but as the evidence is sparse it is too early to say if children may play an important role in the spread of the disease, or not.

What are the measurable effects of school-/nursery-closures that have taken place during the COVID-19 epidemic?

We have not identified any data on this.

Downloadable as PDF. In Norwegian. English summary.

    About this publication

  • Year: 2020
  • By: Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Authors Fretheim A.
  • ISBN (digital): 978-82-8406-071-2