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The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most serious global public health threats of recent times. Understanding SARS-CoV-2 transmission is key for outbreak response and to take action against the spread of disease. Transmission within the household is a concern, especially because infection control is difficult to apply within this setting.


The objective of this observational study was to investigate SARS-CoV-2 transmission in Danish households during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.


We used comprehensive administrative register data from Denmark, comprising the full population and all COVID-19 tests from 27 February 2020 to 1 August 2020, to estimate household transmission risk and attack rate.


We found that the day after receiving a positive test result within the household, 35% (788/2,226) of potential secondary cases were tested and 13% (98/779) of these were positive. In 6,782 households, we found that 82% (1,827/2,226) of potential secondary cases were tested within 14 days and 17% (371/2,226) tested positive as secondary cases, implying an attack rate of 17%. We found an approximate linear increasing relationship between age and attack rate. We investigated the transmission risk from primary cases by age, and found an increasing risk with age of primary cases for adults (aged ≥ 15 years), while the risk seems to decrease with age for children (aged < 15 years).


Although there is an increasing attack rate and transmission risk of SARS-CoV-2 with age, children are also able to transmit SARS-CoV-2 within the household.


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