Background: Understanding carriage and transmission potential of SARS-CoV-2 in children is of paramount importance to understand the spread of virus in school and community settings.

Methods: We performed an updated rapid review to investigate the role of children in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. We synthesized evidence for five categories and results are reported narratively.

Results: A total of 33 new studies were included for this review. We did not identify additional studies that reported documented cases of SARS-CoV-2 transmission by children. We identified 15 new studies that demonstrate children's susceptibility and transmission risk of SARS-CoV-2 with evidence provided on the chance of being index or secondary cases, the potential of faecal-oral transmission, and the possibility of asymptomatic transmission. There is little data on the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools. There were three studies reporting COVID-19 school outbreaks in France (Oise), Australia (New South Wales) and Israel. The remaining four studies found that all reported cases did not infect any other pupils or staff. With data from seven studies and governmental websites, the proportion of children among all confirmed COVID-19 patients was estimated for 29 countries, varying from 0.3% (lowest in Spain) up to 13.8% (highest in Argentina). Lastly, we identified seven studies reporting on PIMS-TS linked to COVID-19 among paediatric patients.

Conclusions: There is somewhat limited evidence available for quantifying the extent to which children may contribute to overall transmission, but the balance of evidence so far suggests that children and schools play only a limited role in overall transmission.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Cite as

Li, X., Xu, W., Dozier, M., He, Y., Kirolos, A., Lang, Z., Song, P. & Theodoratou, E. 2020, 'The role of children in the transmission of SARS-CoV2: updated rapid review', Journal of Global Health, 10(2), article no: 021101. https://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.10.021101

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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