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Changes in contact patterns shape the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak in China

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Science  26 Jun 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6498, pp. 1481-1486
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb8001

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  • RE: Changes in contact patterns shape the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak in China
    • Allan Geliebter, Distinguished Professor, Touro College & University System; New York Medical College
    • Other Contributors:
      • Barbara T Rumain, Associate Professor, Touro College & University System; New York Medical College
      • Moshe Schneiderman, SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

    The press has been widely reporting a key finding based on Zhang et al. (Science 10.1126/science.abb8001(2020)) that children were less likely to become infected with COVID-19. In the Zhang et al. article, the children, ages 0-14 years, reported by the Hunan CDC to be infected in the Hunan province was 6.2% as compared to 8.6% among those 15-64 years and 16.3% among those 65 years and above. Zhang et al. obtained significant values of p <0.0001 for the comparison of children (0-14 years) to the reference group (15-64 years) and p =0.005 for the comparison of the older group (> 65 years) to the reference group.
    It does not seem plausible that a comparison between 6.2% to 8.6% would be much more significant than a comparison between 16.3% to 8.6%. We repeated the statistical comparisons using a chi-square test (with Yates correction for a 2 x 2 table), to obtain p = 0.033 (which is not significant based on two-tailed α = .025 after Bonferroni correction for 2 multiple tests) for the children vs. reference group and a highly significant p<0.0001 for the comparison between the 15-64 group and the >65 group. Zhang et al. used generalized linear mixed regression with several covariates, which we could not perform without having their data. However, it is improbable that their p values would appear so different and in the opposite direction from ours.
    Our statistical finding that children’s infection rate is not significantly lower than that of adults,...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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