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Prolonged Viral Shedding Seen in Children Positive for SARS-CoV-2

Median duration of viral shedding 19.5 days; median of 18 days found from RT-PCR positivity to seropositivity

hospital patient in bed

TUESDAY, Sept. 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatric patients have a prolonged period of viral shedding after infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), according to a study published online Sept. 3 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Burak Bahar, M.D., from the Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., and colleagues conducted a retrospective study of children tested for SARS-CoV-2 by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunoglobulin G antibodies at a pediatric hospital between March 13 and June 21, 2020. Data were included for 6,369 patients who underwent PCR testing and 215 who underwent antibody testing.

The researchers found a median duration of 19.5 days of viral shedding (RT-PCR positivity) and a median duration of 25 days from RT-PCR positivity to negativity. Compared with patients aged 16 through 22 years, those aged 6 through 15 years demonstrated a longer time of RT-PCR positivity to negativity (median, 32 versus 18 days). The median time from RT-PCR positivity to seropositivity was 18 days, while the median time was 36 days to reach adequate levels of neutralizing antibodies.

"With most viruses, when you start to detect antibodies, you won't detect the virus anymore. But with COVID-19, we're seeing both," Bahar said in a statement. "This means children still have the potential to transmit the virus even if antibodies are detected."

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