Enlarge / A healthcare worker administers a Covid-19 test to a child at the Austin Regional Clinic testing and vaccination site in Austin, Texas, USA, on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021.
See more stories
COVID-19 cases in children have increased 30-fold since the end of June and are now at record levels, with nearly 500,000 new cases of children reported in the last two weeks, according to the latest data published by the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday. Pediatric cases have “exponentially increased“the AAP said in a statement.
The increase coincides with a dramatic increase in the overall transmission of COVID-19 driven by the hyper-transmissible delta variant. But with more adults vaccinated, children are more affected in this wave than ever, and they make up a growing proportion of cases.
At this point, the US has recorded 5.3 million cumulative cases in children, representing 15.5 percent of total cases from the pandemic. That percentage has risen steadily during the current increase, up from 14.2 percent at the end of June.
By the end of June, child cases had dropped dramatically to a low point, with children accounting for about 10 percent of total cases for the week ending June 24. Amid the rising delta, that weekly percentage skyrocketed. on September 9, children made up 29 percent of cases. By context, children (under the age of 18) only make up 22.2 percent of the U.S. population.
With the increasing proportion of cases, gross totals in children are now at their highest levels in the pandemic. In the week ending September 9, the US recorded 243,373 pediatric cases (from 49 states, plus New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam). That weekly count is second only to the previous week, which ended Sept. 2, in which states reported 251,781 pediatric cases.
Before the delta surge, the highest weekly count was set in the week ending January 14, in which there were 211,466 cases in children. From there, cases fell to a low of 8,447 in the week ending June 24. Current weekly cases are a 30-fold jump from that point.
About half of the country’s pediatric cases reported in the past two weeks have been in southern states, where many areas are under-vaccinated and transmission has been extremely high.
Children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination. However, data continues to show that vaccinating older children and adults around young children can protect them from infection. States with higher vaccination coverage overall have seen lower cases, emergency visits, and hospitalizations involving children during the current surge.
US officials expect the vaccines to be available to children ages 5 to 11 sometime between the end of October and the end of the year. Next, vaccines will be given for children 6 months to 5 years.
One bright spot among the current data is that hospitalizations and deaths of children from COVID-19 remain relatively low. Among the 24 states that report pediatric hospitalizations, pediatric hospitalizations ranged from 1.6 to 4 percent of total COVID hospitalizations throughout the pandemic. And based on mortality data from 45 states, children have accounted for zero to 0.27 percent of all COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic. Seven states have reported no child deaths during the pandemic.
“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children,” notes the AAP. “However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on the long-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including the ways in which the virus can harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional effects. and mental health “.