Published on Tue Sep 07 2021

SARS-CoV-2 circulation in the school setting: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Martinoli, C., Vecchia, C. L., Raimondi, S., Bellerba, F., Sasso, C., Basso, A., Cammarata, G., Gandini, s.

The contribution of children to viral spread in schools is still under debate. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies to investigate SARS-CoV-2 transmission in school setting.

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Abstract

Background. The contribution of children to viral spread in schools is still under debate. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies to investigate SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the school setting. Methods: Literature searches from April, 2021 and repeated on May, 15th 2021 yielded a total of 1088 publications: screening, contact tracing and seroprevalence studies. MOOSE guidelines were followed and data analyzed using random-effects models. Results: From screening studies involving more than 120,000 subjects, we estimated 0.31% (95% Confidence Interval [CI] 0.05-0.81%) SARS-CoV-2 point prevalence in schools. Contact tracing studies, involving a total of 112,622 contacts of children and adults, showed that onward viral transmission was limited (2.54%; 95%CI 0.76-5.31). Young index cases were found to be 74% significantly less likely than adults to favor viral spread (Odds Ratio [OR]=0.26; 95%CI 0.11-0.63) and were less susceptible to infection (OR=0.60; 95% CI 0.25-1.47). Finally, from seroprevalence studies, with a total of 17,879 subjects involved, we estimated that children are 43% significantly less likely than adults to test positive for antibodies (OR=0.57; 95%CI: 0.49-0.68). In conclusion, testing all subjects in schools, independently of symptoms, students less likely than adults favor viral spread and SARS-CoV-2 circulation in schools was found to be limited.