Covid infections are rising in the US, even requiring hospitalisation, amid soaring infections from the Delta variant of Covid-19 and lagging vaccination rates, media reports said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in its latest update, said there were nearly 94,000 cases of Covid among kids in the last week, or about 15 per cent of weekly total cases. Kids made up between 1.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent of total hospitalisations, it noted.
“It is scary, especially for kids who don’t fully understand what’s going on. They’re air hungry, struggling for breath, and it’s just scary,” Dr Kelechi Iheagwara, medical director of the paediatric intensive care unit at the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was quoted as saying by the NBC News.
“You have the illness, the fear, they can’t breathe, they’re isolated – that’s hard for anyone to understand, but can you imagine what it’s like for a kid?” Iheagwara added.
Further, Covid infections in kids is coupled with a rise in cases of a respiratory virus known as respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, a highly contagious, flu-like illness, that is typically more likely to affect children and older adults. That has shrunk the bed space further in children’s hospitals and expanded on the unrelenting demand on doctors and nurses, the report said.
At least 81 children in the US died of Covid between March and July, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many doctors warn that the situation is likely to get worse.
Children get infected because a member of their household, often a parent, brings the coronavirus home. Oftentimes, it is because an adult in the home is unvaccinated, Iheagwara said.
Health officials are concerned as many schools across the country are set to open, increasing the risk of children being infected. Covid infections in children have been majorly seen in Arkansas, Missouri, Houston, and Louisiana.
“Children in Louisiana have died of Covid and more unfortunately will die,” Dr. John Vanchiere, a paediatric infectious disease specialist. “This is not a time for politics, for fighting or threatening lawsuits about masks. Masks save lives,” he added
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden expects the Food and Drug Administration to soon grant full approval for vaccinating kids under 12.
Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are conducting clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the vaccines in children under 12. Results of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 could be expected in September.
Data for 2-to-5-year-olds could arrive soon after. For the youngest children, Pfizer said it could potentially get data in October or November, and shortly thereafter ask the FDA to authorise emergency use.