Nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in young children do not differ significantly from those in older children and adults

Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 4;11(1):3044. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-81934-w.


The role of children in the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has become a matter of urgent debate as societies in the US and abroad consider how to safely reopen schools. Small studies have suggested higher viral loads in young children. Here we present a multicenter investigation on over five thousand SARS-CoV-2 cases confirmed by real-time reverse transcription (RT) PCR assay. Notably, we found no discernable difference in amount of viral nucleic acid among young children and adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • COVID-19* / virology
  • California / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharynx / virology*
  • RNA, Viral / analysis*
  • SARS-CoV-2* / genetics
  • SARS-CoV-2* / physiology
  • Viral Load*
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Viral