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These days scientists have little choice but to play the role of diplomat, especially when they have unpleasant truths to report. The issue of school closure, and the fact how long this situation will continue is definitely one of these uncomfortable topics.
The issue was the focus of an interesting meeting at Zoom on January 4, where scientists led by Michael Wagner, professor of microbiology at the University of Vienna, formally presented an extensive study on the spread of coronavirus in Austrian schools.
In mid-December, Wagner told Der Spiegel that the study found that school children were as likely to be infected with the new coronavirus as their teachers.
The only difference is that their infection usually remains undetected, as they rarely show symptoms. As such, the risk of infection by children is minimized. Wagner and a group of scientists at medical universities in Graz, Linc and Inbruck have shed more light on these cases.
They have started testing teachers and children from first to eighth grade, in more than 240 schools across the country. And are relying on the standard PCR test. The subjects examined had no symptoms, so they had no idea whether or not they were infected with SARS-CoV-2. So far, up to 1.42 percent of study participants have tested positive - and the rate was the same for both children and adults.
Among school students, there was no difference between age groups. Many elementary school children were infected, as were high school children. This finding contradicts the old belief that younger children are "spared" mainly from SARS-CoV-2 infections.
Prominent German virologist Christian Drosten of the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, who advised the German government to close schools during the first coronavirus outbreak in the spring of 2020, believes the data from the Austrian study are "really important, as they confirm what is being seen in England.
The last major UK study on children yielded similar results. From mid-November to early December, students aged 13-17 turned out to be more positive than any other age group. One in 50 students tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
Një e dhënë e studimit austriak është veçanërisht e spikatur nga pikëpamja socio-politike: Shkalla e infeksioneve të pazbuluara është dy herë më e lartë në zonat e varfra sesa në ato më të pasura. “Kjo nuk do të thotë domosdoshmërisht që kushtet në shkollat në zonat përkatëse janë të ndryshme. Por kjo dukuri mund të vijë për shkak të mjedisit shoqëror. Për shembull, prindërit që nuk mund të punojnë nga shtëpia, kanë më shumë gjasa t`i dërgojnë fëmijët e tyre në shkollë, edhe nëse ai apo ajo shfaq simptoma të lehta”-shpjegon Peter Vil i Universitetit Mjekësor të Insbrukut, që bashkë me Vagner, është një nga drejtuesit e konsorciumit kërkimor.
Në krye të shqetësimi është varianti i ri virusit, i quajtur B.1.1.7, që u identifikua për herë të parë në Britani, por që ka kohë që ka filluar të qarkullojë në vende të tjera, përfshirë Gjermaninë dhe Austrinë.
Ai duket se është 50-70 për qind më infektiv sesa virusi me të cilin jemi marrë deri tani. Gjithashtu, duket se B.1.1.7 përhapet më lehtë midis fëmijëve dhe adoleshentëve. “Unë kam dëgjuar shumë rreth asaj se si fëmijët janë më infektivë tani dhe kontribuojnë më shumë nëtransmetimin e virusit për shkak të variantit B.1.1.7”-shkroi në Twitter Depti Gurdasani, epidemiologe dhe mjeke në Universitetin Mbretëresha Meri në Londër.
But, she adds that it was "a myth", the claim so far that children were not transmitting the disease. Gurdasani told "Der Spiegel" that the evidence is stubborn. "It is clear from evidence across the globe and within the UK that schools have contributed significantly to the transmission of the virus to the community," she said. / Bota.al