Analysis of the age profile of Covid infections, however, does not point to schools being especially important in the early-stage growth of the second wave. Although the report does also observe that ‘school closures can contribute to a reduction in SARS-CoV-2 transmission’.
But had schools played a big role you would expect to have seen a sharp increase in cases among children of school age a week or two following the return to the classroom. Instead, the ECDC noted that Europe’s second wave began with a sharp increase in cases among 19 to 39 year olds in mid August. Cases among 16 to 18 year olds also increased around this time, but the curve of infections among younger children rose much more gradually, in step with infection rates in the over-40s.
The return to school of children around mid-August 2020 coincided with a general relaxation of other NPI measures in many countries and does not appear to have been a driving force in the upsurge in cases observed in many EU Member States from October 2020.
About 80% of patients have mild to moderate disease (including non-pneumonia and pneumonia cases), 13.8% have severe disease and 6.1% are critical (respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ dysfunction/failure). Individuals at highest risk for severe disease and death are people aged over 60 years of age and those with underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer. Disease in children appears to be relatively rare and mild. About 2.4% of the total reported cases were individuals under 19 years of age. A very small proportion of those aged under 19 years have developed severe (2.5%) or critical disease (0.2%).