A French schoolboy who contracted Covid-19 on a skiing holiday in February didn’t infect anyone else he came into contact with despite showing symptoms, a new study reports. It sheds new light on children as virus ‘vectors.’
The child had stayed in a ski chalet in Les Contamines-Montjoie, where British coronavirus ‘super-spreader’ Steve Walsh had also been vacationing. Walsh unwittingly exposed about a dozen of his fellow guests to the disease after picking it up during a business trip to Singapore in January, before traveling on to France.
A Public Health France investigation into the child’s case discovered that the nine-year-old did not pass it on to either of his siblings nor to anyone else, despite coming into contact with 172 people.
All were quarantined as a precaution after coming into contact with the boy, with only one from the group testing positive for the novel coronavirus. However, doctors ruled that the single positive case must have come from a source other than the boy, as the other 171 contacts had all tested negative.
According to the study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the boy tested positive for influenza and the common cold as well as Covid-19 – and, though he passed the first two illnesses on to his siblings, they did not contract the coronavirus.
Epidemiologist and study lead author Dr Kostas Danis told AFP that the boy “attended three [ski] schools while symptomatic, but did not transmit the virus, suggesting potentially different transmission dynamics in children.”
France’s public health agency researchers believe the study shows that children “might not be an important source of transmissions” of coronavirus, as has been feared.
The news could point to the closure of schools not being as effective a measure in curbing the spread of the disease as had previously been thought.
However, doctors emphasized that children had just as much chance of catching the disease, but were likely to only show mild symptoms and, therefore, to be less infectious.