New warning to grandparents as research shows toddlers are Covid super-spreaders

Aug 19, 2021
Young children are facing their biggest Covid threat yet as Delta spreads across Australia. Source: Getty

Just weeks after grandparents were warned to stay away from their grandchildren amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, new research has revealed that babies and toddlers are Covid-19 super-spreaders.

Research published in the medical journal JAMA paediatrics found that younger children are more likely to transmit Covid-19 compared with older children and teenagers, and the highest odds of transmission was observed for children aged zero to three years old.

For the study, researchers from Public Health Ontario in Canada surveyed 6,280 households where the first case of infection was in an individual under the age of 18. While teens aged 14 to 17 accounted for 38 per cent of first cases, compared with 12 per cent of children aged three or younger, it was the youngest age group that presented the biggest risk of transmission.

In fact, children aged zero to three were 40 per cent more likely to pass the virus onto someone else than any other age group surveyed.

It’s grim news for grandparents, who were told just weeks ago to stay away from their grandkids as the threat of the Delta variant grows around the country. In early August, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young warned that the Delta variant was spreading fast among young children and that anyone who was not vaccinated against Covid-19 was at “significant risk” of infection.

“If you’re a grandparent, don’t go anywhere near your grandkids,” she said. “We still don’t have all our healthcare workers and aged care workers vaccinated. We need them all vaccinated.

“So far this outbreak has affected schoolkids. We’ve not seen their grandparents infected. So if you are a grandparent of one of these kids, one of these households and haven’t been vaccinated, don’t go anywhere near your grandkids.

“If you have two doses of vaccine and normally provide care for grandkids so their parents can go and do essential work, then that’s fine. If you haven’t had your two doses of vaccine, you’re 60 or over, please stay home. It’s really important because you are significantly more at risk.”

While earlier variants of Covid-19 weren’t as contagious among children, Delta is taking a considerable toll on our youngest citizens. Since the start of the pandemic in Australia there have been more than 2,800 Covid cases in children under 10.

There is currently no vaccine for children under the age of 12, however, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for people 12 years and older.

Health experts have urged all eligible adults to get vaccinated against Covid-19, especially those aged 60 and over who are at greater risk of complications and death from the virus.

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