German virologist Drosten still sees schools as a risk of infection – Swiss experts disagree



German virologist Drosten still sees schools as a risk of infection – Swiss experts disagree

In a tweet, the German virologist Christian Drosten writes that schools played a role in the spread of Sars-CoV-2. Most experts do not consider children to be the drivers of the pandemic.

In the opinion of most infectiologists, schools are not a driver of the pandemic.

Chris Iseli

The German virologist and Merkel consultant Christian Drosten causes a stir in Germany with a tweet. In it, he mentions a study from England which shows the rates of coronavirus sufferers before Christmas and after Christmas. He points out that in this region of England, open schools had a higher Covid rate among students before Christmas. During the Christmas holidays this prevalence fell among schoolchildren, while the rate of sick people rose among adults, i.e. parents. “Are there still any doubts about the role of school operations in the spread of Sars-CoV-2?” Asks Drosten rhetorically in his tweet.

In the spring, Drosten, in contrast to most virologists and infectiologists, expressed the opinion that the risk of infection in schools was high. In contrast, several studies during the year had shown that while children are spreaders of the flu, they are not drivers of coronavirus infection. That is why neither schools nor daycare centers are considered hotspots. This is also emphasized by the leading infectiologists from the children’s hospital in Eastern Switzerland. Studies have shown that transmissions by children in the same household are possible, but rare.

Infection rarely comes from children

Infectiologist Anita Niederer from the Children’s Hospital mentions a study each from Switzerland and England that showed that living with children does not lead to increased infections, even when schools are open. This is also confirmed by the everyday observations in the children’s hospital. “With the few children who have a positive test result, there is in almost every case an adult contact person within the family, relatives or the immediate vicinity with already confirmed Covid disease,” says Niederer. A child is almost never the first positive person in a family, even if it could be that way in individual cases.

Christian Drosten, Director of the Institute for Virology at the Charité in Berlin

Christian Drosten, Director of the Institute for Virology at the Charité in Berlin

Christophe Gateau / DPA

Drosten sees network function

Drosten disagrees. In England, the mutated virus got through schools and spread across the country. Schools have a network function because students bring the virus home and siblings from there to the next class. In the spring of his own study, he pointed out that children can carry the same viral load as adults. However, in contrast to Drosten, many experts were of the opinion that the viral load says little about the infectiousness of children.

Schools and daycare centers are relevant to the system

The Swiss study “Ciao Corona” confirms that children can carry the virus home from school. However, an infection cluster was discovered in only four of 130 classes in the canton of Zurich. The German Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases published a statement two weeks ago in which it states, among other things, that although children in community facilities participate in the infection process, according to the current state of knowledge, they are not themselves a driver of the pandemic. Schools and daycare centers are systemically relevant because they essentially meet the basic social and intellectual needs and determine the children’s development. School closings could only be the last resort.

Measure with little effect and great harm

The infectiologists at the Children’s Hospital in Eastern Switzerland also state that measures such as school closings did not change the course of the pandemic, but clearly harmed the children. Roger Lauener, chief physician at the Children’s Hospital, says: “As paediatricians, it is important to us that measures with little effect and great harm are not implemented simply because children do not have a lobby that stands up for them.”

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German virologist Drosten sees schools risk infection Swiss experts disagree


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