With tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans at higher risk of serious illness from Covid-19 infections, doctors and health facilities nationwide are reporting growing numbers of young people in hospital, some too young to receive treatment. vaccine doses.
The nation’s largest pediatric hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, reports a more than four-fold increase in hospitalizations of children with Covid-19 in the past two weeks, spurred by the spread of Omicron and Delta variants over the past two weeks. of the holiday season.
“We already have staggering numbers here since this Omicron surge,” said Dr. Jim Versalovic, chief pathologist at Texas Children’s, on Monday. “We broke earlier records that were set during the delta surge in August.”
More than 700 children were hospitalized with Covid-19 for a 24-hour period last week, he said, and 90% of cases have been shown by sequencing to have been caused by the Omicron variant.
“We are seeing more Covid now than we have seen in previous waves,” said Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, primary care pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, “and it is worrying that the worst of winter here has not passed, and we are bracing for what is yet to come. “
Noting that some children with coronavirus may seek medical attention for other conditions but test positive, Bracho-Sanchez told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday that it is obvious from what she saw in New York that more children have Covid-19 than ever before. .
“We would be foolish to continue to minimize Covid-19 in children at this point in the pandemic,” she said.
Early research suggests that Omicron may cause more upper airway problems, unlike previous strains that caused lower airway problems. However, upper respiratory tract conditions can be more dangerous for children than for adults.
“We cannot treat the airways of children as if they were the airways of adults,” she said. “That’s just not how it works. And for us pediatricians, we know that respiratory viruses can lead to… croup and bronchiolitis, that inflammation of the upper respiratory tract that causes problems in children. “
Versalovic said on Monday of children at their facility in need of care: “It is clear that the majority of cases have either Covid-19 as a primary factor or as a significant contributing factor to their hospitalization. “
Data released last week by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services showed admissions to pediatric hospitals had reached an all-time high, eclipsing marks of the 2020 holiday soar as well as the Delta soar during the summer and fall.
Cumulative hospitalization rates through November are about eight times higher for unvaccinated adults and about 10 times higher for unvaccinated children aged 12 to 17, according to CDC data.
Children are the least vaccinated age group in the United States, with about 53% of 12-17 year olds fully vaccinated and those aged 5 to 11 significantly under, according to CDC data. Americans aged 18 to 24 are almost 59% fully immunized, and those aged 25 to 39 are 63%.
Overall, 62% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated and more than 33% of them have received a booster, according to CDC data.
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