Adults and Children Have Similar Risk of COVID-19 Infection


Study shows that about half the pediatric cases were symptomatic compared with 88% for individuals aged 18 years and older.

Adults and children and adults have a similar risk of being infected with SARS-CoV-2, but children are less likely to show symptoms, according to the results from the Coronavirus Household Evaluation and Respiratory Testing study, led by the CDC.

“Often, it seemed like children weren’t sick because they didn’t have any symptoms,” Christina Porucznik, PhD, professor of public health at University of Utah Health, said in a statement. “But some were actually infected, and they could still spread COVID-19.”

Investigators found that in addition to similar infection rates, about half the cases for pediatrics were symptomatic compared with 88% of the adults. Children in different age groups, such as birth to aged 4 years, aged 5 to 11 years, and aged 12 to 17 years, all had similar infection rates.

In households with 1 or more individuals infected, the overall average household infection risk was 52%. The mean household infection rate of Utah was 40%, while New York City was 80%.

The study followed 310 households with 1 or more children aged 0 to 17 years in New York City and Utah. More than 1236 individuals submitted weekly questionnaires and polymerase chain reaction tests. On average, individuals were observed for 17 weeks, which included a total of 21,465 person-weeks of surveillance time.

The study was conducted from September 2020 through April 2021 before the Delta variant emerged in the United States.

The findings were posted in JAMA Pediatrics.


Children, adults equally vulnerable to coronavirus infection, but children less likely to become sick. EurekAlert. News release. November 1, 2021. Accessed November 3, 2021.

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