The number of pediatric patients with Covid hospitalized in the US has skyrocketed since Delta gained the upper hand, but a new study that provides a first look at the relevant data suggests that fears the variant causes more serious illness are unfounded.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention article also found that between June 20 and July 31, 2021, unvaccinated adolescents were more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who had been vaccinated.
The health agency analyzed hospital records from an area comprising approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population, between March 1, 2020, and August 14, 2021.
This included the period before the emergence of Delta, the most contagious species to date, and after it became dominant, as of June 20.
Weekly hospitalizations of children aged 0-17 were lowest between June 12 and July 3, at 0.3 per 100,000, before rising to 1.4 per 100,000 in the week ending August 14 — a 4.7-fold increase .
Childhood hospitalizations hit their all-time high of 1.5 per 100,000 in the week leading up to Jan. 9, as the US experienced the winter wave driven by the Alpha variant.
In line with previous research, children aged 12-17 years and 0-4 years are at higher risk of hospitalization from Covid than children aged 5-11.
After examining 3,116 hospital records from the pre-Delta period and comparison with 164 records from the Delta period, the percentage of children with severe indicators did not differ much.
Specifically, the percentage of hospitalized patients admitted to the intensive care unit was 26.5 pre-Delta and 23.2 post; the percentage placed on ventilators was 6.1 pre-Delta and 9.8 post; and the percentage who died was 0.7 pre-Delta and 1.8 post.
These differences did not reach the level of statistical significance.
The finding comes with the important caveat that because the number of hospital admissions in the post-Delta period is small, more data needs to be collected for scientists to gain more confidence in the conclusion.
The study also underlined the vaccine’s efficacy against pediatric Covid hospitalization during Delta.
Between June 20 and July 31, of the 68 adolescents hospitalized with Covid-19 whose vaccination status was known, 59 were unvaccinated, five partially vaccinated and four fully vaccinated.
This meant that the unvaccinated were 10.1 times more likely to be hospitalized than the vaccinated.
Children protected by community vaccinations
A second study by the CDC examined Covid cases in children, hospitalizations and emergency room visits from June to August 2021, comparing them to community vaccination levels at the time.
Covid-related pediatric (ages 0-17) emergency rooms and hospital admissions were 3.4 times higher and 3.7 times higher, respectively, in states that fell in the bottom quartile of the total number of vaccinated per capita, compared with states in the highest quartile.
The message is that, while clinical trials for vaccines under the age of 12 and subsequent authorizations are pending, high vaccination rates in the community are dampening transmission of Covid and protecting children.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)