“Anyone who has been on the front lines of this pandemic in a children’s hospital can tell you we’ve taken care of lots of kids that are very sick”
The US has seen a huge rise in coronavirus cases among children, in a report published today, just ahead of the UK government sending children back to school from this week.
Even more worryingly, the number of hospitalisations and deaths among children has risen far faster than among the general population:
The statistics, which run from 21 May to 20 August, show hospitalisations among children have more than quadrupled among children – up by 356% – compared to a little more than doubling among the general population. Child deaths from the virus have more than tripled, compared to a similar just over double among adults.
The rises in hospitalisations and deaths mean that the increase is not merely a consequence of higher testing rates catching more people with the virus.
Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on infectious diseases, told the New York Times:
Anyone who has been on the front lines of this pandemic in a children’s hospital can tell you we’ve taken care of lots of kids that are very sick. Yes, it’s less severe in children than adults, but it’s not completely benign.
The paper also notes that at a summer camp that saw hundreds catch the virus, more than three-quarters of children and adults whose test results were available had tested positive – and children in the 6-10 age bracket were most likely to be infected.
Children who catch the virus at school are not safe from the consequences of the disease and the prevalence of serious complications has increased – but even those who do not become seriously ill are likely to pass the virus to older, vulnerable relatives and contacts.
Studies in France, Germany and Australia have shown that children are just as likely to catch and transmit the virus as adults, that the virus can spread rapidly in schools and that many children become infected without detection.
COVID-related ‘Kawasaki syndrome’ has emerged as a serious complication among children, with rates in the UK running at twenty times higher than predicted, even in the early days of its prevalence.
As expert virologist Christian Drosten said after studying the French outbreak:
If that’s happening in schools, then you cannot open schools.
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