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The silent young spreaders: Lots of asymptomatic kids among COVID-19 cases

The latest coronavirus spike is dominated by young people, many of them asymptomatic children who can endanger grandparents without realizing it, according to the head of research at Maccabi Health Services.

Active coronavirus cases have climbed from under 2,000 in early June to almost 3,600, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that there may be a renewal of harsh restrictions if growth doesn’t slow.

In Tel Aviv, which is seeing the fastest spread of the virus, some 57 percent of Maccabi members who tested positive in June are aged 18 or under, Anat Ekka-Zohar told The Times of Israel. There is a similar pattern in other central Israeli cities where cases are growing, she said. In Petah Tikva the figure is 77%, in Jaffa 60% and in Bnei Brak 43%.

Many of the children tested positive after cases were discovered in their schools and the Health Ministry prescribed screening for classes or for entire institutions. “A lot of the kids were asymptomatic, yet were positive,” said Ekka-Zohar. ”They have very light coronavirus.”

Lots of the current adult carriers are aged 45 or under, Ekka-Zohar said.

Some 73% of Maccabi members nationally who tested positive in June are 45 or under, and in Tel Aviv, the figure is 79%.

Maccabi, which is responsible for the health of 2 million Israelis, says that just 1.3% of the people it found to be infected in June are aged 75 or older, Ekka-Zohar said.

Looking at the figure for the 65-plus age group, which is considered the most at-risk of serious illness or death if infected, Ekka-Zohar said it stands at 6.7% for June cases. In April, that age group accounted for around 12% of Maccabi’s cases, she added.

The fact that the most vulnerable aren’t being infected in large numbers bodes well, Ekka-Zohar said, commenting: “It’s not going to provoke a crisis in terms of the number of hospitalizations or in terms of ventilators.”

Source: Nathan Jeffay – TOI