Delta variant does not cause more severe cases in children, study finds

As concern grows around the world over the growing number of children hospitalized for the Coronavirus, a US study claims that Delta is not causing more severe cases of Covid-19 in children and adolescents compared to other variants. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the country’s leading federal public health agency, studied data from patients hospitalized for Covid-19 across 99 counties in 14 states, covering around 10% of the population American.

In particular, the agency compared the period from early March to mid-June with that from mid-June to late July, when the Delta variant became dominant in the United States. Between these two periods, the rate of hospitalization among children and adolescents aged 0 to 17 has effectively increased fivefold. But “the proportion of children and adolescents hospitalized for serious illness”, with for example an admission to intensive care, “was similar before and during the period in which Delta was dominant”.

Vaccines Still Protect Teens Against Delta

In detail, of the 3,116 children and adolescents hospitalized in three and a half months before Delta, about 26% were admitted to intensive care, 6% were placed on a ventilator, and less than 1% died. After Delta, out of 164 hospitalizations recorded in a month and a half, about 23% were admitted to intensive care, 10% placed on a ventilator, and less than 2% died. The differences between the two periods are therefore not statistically significant. The CDC notes, however, that the number of children with severe cases of the disease was small between mid-June and the end of July, limiting the relevance of the comparisons made. They stress that the data will need to continue to be closely monitored in the future.

This work also shows that vaccines still protect adolescents against Delta: hospitalization rates were about ten times higher for adolescents who were vaccinated than for those who were not vaccinated during the period of Delta’s predominance. In the United States, adolescents can receive their Pfizer vaccine injections from the age of 12.

“More children catch Covid-19 because the disease is circulating more”

In addition, a second study published on Friday shows that adult vaccination tends to protect children from contamination. It studied emergency room visits as well as the number of hospitalizations nationwide in August.

In states with the lowest immunization coverage for the general population, the number of emergency room visits by children and adolescents was more than three times higher than in states with low immunity. And the number of hospitalizations, almost 4 times higher. “More children catch Covid-19 because the disease is circulating more,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said on Thursday, referring to these two studies. According to her, they demonstrate on the one hand that “vaccination works”, and on the other hand, that “there has been no increase in the severity of the disease in children”.

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