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Photo: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A study published Thursday found that children may play a larger role in the spread of COVID-19 than previously realized, intensifying concerns as schools grapple with whether to reopen.

Why it matters: The findings, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, coincide with changing scientific research analyzing children's ability to spread the virus, despite showing mild or no symptoms.

What they found: Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston found that of the study's 192 participants, 25% tested positive for COVID-19.

  • The children who tested positive had significantly higher levels of the virus in their airways compared to adult patients hospitalized in intensive care units.
  • While some of the children presented symptoms, others did not, adding to fears that children may be silent spreaders of the virus.
  • "It would be ineffective to rely on symptoms or temperature monitoring to identify SARS-CoV-2 infection," the study's authors wrote, emphasizing the need for mask use and social distancing.
  • “Some people thought that children might be protected,” Alessio Fasano, one of the study's authors, told the Washington Post. “This is incorrect. They may be as susceptible as adults — but just not visible.”

The big picture: The closure of schools and day cares across the U.S. has limited the understanding of how children contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

Additionally, recent studies have raised concerns about infections among children.

  • A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that COVID-19 cases among children increased 40% in the second half of July.
  • Children can also develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which is a serious COVID-19 related illness that could develop within several weeks after infection.

The bottom line: Children are not spared from the virus and could worsen community spread as schools reopen.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 27, 2020 - Sports

NFL reschedules Thanksgiving matchup for second time due to COVID outbreak

Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

The NFL has once again postponed a Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers matchup originally scheduled for primetime on Thanksgiving day due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Why it matters: It's the first time the league has had to scrap a game since October, as the U.S. copes with another surge in coronavirus infections heading into the holidays.

Nov 27, 2020 - Health

WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release"

A medical syringe and vial with fake coronavirus vaccine in front of the World Health Organization (WHO) logo. Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Top scientists at the World Health Organization on Friday called for more detailed information on a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca have said the vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses. AstraZeneca has since acknowledged that the smaller dose received by some participants was the result of an error by a contractor, per the New York Times.

In photos: Black Friday shopping across the U.S.

Customers shop at Macys on Nov. 27 in New York City. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

Many Americans braved shopping malls and department stores to shop in-person on Black Friday.

Why it matters: Coronavirus infections are still on the rise across much of the U.S. during a season of travel and holiday gatherings. Hospitals across the country, especially in rural areas, are still overwhelmed.