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Several children are hospitalized with Covid, but experts are not sure if they are also ill

Several children are hospitalized with Covid, but experts are not sure if they are also ill

Kali Cook was 4 when she died after contracting Covid-19 last week in Galveston County, Texas, and became the youngest resident of the county to die of the disease.

“She was so funny and funny,” her mother, Karra Harwood, told The Galveston County Daily News about the little girl who liked to play with frogs and worms. “She was just so beautiful and full of life.”

According to her family, Kali had no previously diagnosed health conditions and was found to be in good health by a doctor recently, Dr. Philip Keizer, the local health authority in Galveston County, to NBC News. She began to develop respiratory symptoms after other family members became ill with Covid, and the next morning she was found dead. An autopsy is performed.

Keizer said Kali’s death was “really shocking,” but it should not have been, as 40 percent of the county’s cases are people under the age of 20, and the largest single demographic group is children under the age of 10.

“This has shaken up our whole society. How could this happen? Why could this happen? ” he said. “But in some ways again, when you step back and you see and see how the delta can spread very quickly and children are now one of the largest unvaccinated groups in the country, it should not be surprising to us, though it was quite shocking. ”

By September 9, nearly 5.3 million children had been diagnosed with Covid-19, representing 15.5 percent of all cases, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. More than 243,000 cases were reported from September 2 to September 9, the second-highest number of cases in children in a week since the onset of the pandemic, representing nearly 29 percent of the weekly reported cases, according to the AAP. The highest number of cases was just one week before, with 251,781 new cases. The AAP reported that after declining in early summer, “child cases have increased exponentially with nearly 500,000 cases in the last 2 weeks.”

Despite the explosion in cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the pediatric specialists and clinical investigators studying the disease still have no evidence that delta causes more serious infections in children and adolescents.

However, experts are examining “red flags that may indicate greater severity of the disease in certain segments of the pediatric population,” says Dr. Jim Versalovic, the interim chief physician at Texas Children’s Hospital.

“For example, we see Covid pneumonia and acute respiratory distress in infants and young children,” Versalovic said, adding that some cases were due to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) -Covid co-infections with a major hospitalization.

“So it can be hard to understand if we have a more serious illness due to delta or co-infections,” he said.

A final answer may still be months away, Versalovic said, though he hopes there will be “more clarity on this topic during the calendar year 2021”.

“We need more time to evaluate the data across regions, age groups, different underlying medical conditions and long-term outcomes,” he said.

“These questions can be challenging, and note that this delta wave is only 2 months old,” he said. “We can state with certainty that the Delta’s greatest impact on children is simply the larger case number or the much larger number of children with Covid.”

An average of 341 new Covid patients aged 17 and under were hospitalized from the week of September 6 to September 12, slightly down from a recent high of 371 a day from August 29 to September 4, according to available data from the CDC. More than 57,300 children have been hospitalized since August 1, according to the data.

And at least 412 children have died from Covid, according to the latest CDC data, although serious complications in children are still rare.

Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice president of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Infectious Diseases, said that while the question of whether the virus is more serious in children is important, it “is not as important as how many children, quite frankly, right now are infected and hospitalized. ”

“We still do not have the right answer to the question of adult disease, where at least there are far more admissions than there are in children, so I think it will be a difficult question to answer.”

This month, the CDC found in two studies that children’s hospital admissions increased “almost fivefold in late June to mid-August 2021,” according to a study. This study also found that hospitalization was “10 times higher among unvaccinated than among fully vaccinated adolescents.”

The studies found no evidence that the delta variant appeared to cause more serious illness in children, but the large number of children exposed to it drove an increase in children hospitalized with Covid.

Whether the delta itself is more severe, doctors say they are noticing more cases of children becoming seriously ill as the pandemic progresses and the delta variant has become dominant.

Dr. Inci Yildirim, a pediatric specialist in infectious diseases at Yale Medicine, said it was very uncommon earlier in the pandemic to see “a teenager who was intubated for days in the ICU. But now that more children are being infected, more children are being admitted. ”

“This is the first time I have seen so many pediatric patients with Covid-19 in the hospital,” she said. “This was not the case 8-10 months ago.”

Yildirim said Covid is a milder disease in children than in adults, “but it is not at all a mild childhood disease when one has hundreds of children dying.”

Dr. Claudette Poole, a pediatrician for Infectious Diseases with the Children of Alabama Hospital, said the hospital has been testing all hospitalized children since last spring for Covid.

Looking at how the virus manifested in children in August 2020, about 44 percent were completely asymptomatic, she said. Now only 10 percent of children are asymptomatic, she said.

Poole said this seemed to show that delta could be more likely to cause actual symptoms in children than previous variants.

But she also said that much is different now at this time of year compared to the same time last year.

“There was a lot more distance learning, we were in much stricter form of mitigation measures a year ago than we are now,” she said. “So it’s a combination of less mitigating measures and certainly a more transmissible virus compared to what we had to do with last year, and it seems to be more likely to cause symptomatic disease than the previous variant, so it’s like a triple whammy if you would. ”

Poole said it was important for people to know that Covid can cause serious illness in children, although it is more rare than in adults.

“We are definitely seeing children end up at the ICU in numbers that we did not experience earlier in the pandemic,” she said. “And when I say ICU care level, I mean they’re getting desperately, desperately sick.”

“It’s just alarming to us that so many children are getting sick and requiring hospital-level care,” she said.

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