The Delta variant is proving just as infectious for children as for everyone else, with pediatric cases surging in some parts of the United States, pediatricians and children’s hospitals say.
However, it’s not clear yet whether the variant is any harsher on kids compared to earlier strains of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), leading to more hospitalizations and brushes with death rather than just the sniffles.
Child cases of Covid-19 steadily increased throughout July, as Delta became the dominant strain in the United States, according to tracking data kept by the Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
More than 71,700 Covid-19 cases in people under the age of 18 were reported between July 22 and July 29, with kids and teens representing about one in five new cases that week, the data shows.
Doctors and nurses at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida – a state hammered by the Delta surge – “have been extremely busy caring for pediatric patients diagnosed with Covid-19 in the past few weeks as we’ve seen one of the highest increases in Covid-19 cases at our hospital since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Angela Green, the hospital’s vice president and chief patient safety and quality officer.
But there are mixed reports regarding the severity of illness linked to the Delta variant in kids.
The tracking numbers show that the rate of pediatric Covid-19 hospitalizations is about the same as it has been for earlier variants, varying between 0.1 percent and 1.9 percent depending on the state.
“While we are seeing an increase in overall cases, our hospitalization rate for Covid has remained the same,” Green said.
The AAP agrees, saying that “at this time, it appears that severe illness due to Covid-19 is uncommon among children.”
But one front-line doctor disagrees, suspecting that Delta is indeed harder on kids although there’s currently no hard numbers to prove it.