Version 1 du 27 mars 2020
Children account for a small proportion of diagnoses of SARS-CoV-2 infection and do not exhibit greater viral loads than adults
Philippe COLSON, Hervé TISSOT-DUPONT, Aurélie MORAND, Céline BOSCHI, Laetitia NINOVE, Vera ESTEVES-VIERA, Philippe GAUTRET, Philippe BROUQUI, Philippe PAROLA, Jean-Christophe LAGIER, Christine ZANDOTTI, Matthieu MILLION, Bernard LA SCOLA, Didier RAOULT


Objectives :
SARS-CoV-2 has emerged among humans in China since December 2019 and has now spread outside this country. Chinese reports have suggested that children are less affected than adults, but scarce data have been reported so far and no data are available for France.
Methods :
We analyzed the number of SARS-CoV-2 RNA tests of respiratory samples sent to our laboratory between end of February and mid-March 2020. Clinical symptoms and mortality rate were analyzed among SARS-CoV-2-positive patients sampled in Marseille university hospitals.
Results :
Between February, 27th and March 14th, 2020 we performed SARS-CoV-2 RNA testing on respiratory samples from 4,050 individuals and diagnosed 228 cases. Among 99 documented cases, 2 (both >85 year-old and admitted with acute respiratory distress) died (2.0%), while children in our series were majoritarily asymptomatic. We observed an increasing incidence (7.4-fold rise) of positive tests between 1-5 year and 45-65 years, then a decrease >65 years. The proportion of positive subjects was significantly lower among children whose age was 0- 1 year (0%), 1-5 years (1.1%) and 5-10 years (3.6%) than among subjects >18 years (6.5%). In addition, SARS-CoV-2-positive children exhibited viral loads that do not differ significantly compared to those of adults, proportion of high viral loads (Ct<19) being 0%, 0% and 9% for subjects <10 years, between 10-18 years and >18 years, respectively.
Conclusion :
Thus, children and adolescents accounted for a low proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections and did not exhibit higher viral loads than adults, and they may not contribute significantly to the virus circulation.

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