Children's hospitalizations soar - The New York Times

Pediatric hospitalizations for Covid-19 skyrocketed over the summer as the highly contagious Delta variant spread across the country, ac...


Pediatric hospitalizations for Covid-19 skyrocketed over the summer as the highly contagious Delta variant spread across the country, according to two new studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From late June to mid-August, U.S. hospitalization rates for children and adolescents almost quintupled, although they remain slightly below the January peak, a new study find.

But the vaccination made a difference. During this summer’s surge, the hospitalization rate was 10 times higher among unvaccinated adolescents than among those who were vaccinated, the researchers found. Pediatric hospital admissions were nearly four times higher in states with the lowest vaccination rates than in those with the highest rates, according to a second study.

The studies, published Friday, do not provide clear answers as to whether Delta causes more serious illness in children than earlier versions of the virus. The increase in pediatric hospitalizations could also be due to the high contagiousness of the variant.

Indeed, one study concluded that the proportion of hospitalized children with severe illness did not change at the end of June and July, when the Delta variant became dominant in the United States.

Rates reported in CDC studies are based on data from two national surveillance systems, including hospitals in 49 states and Washington, DC.

In CDC study, researchers found that since July, when the Delta variant became predominant, the rate of new coronavirus cases has increased for children 17 and under, as have emergency room visits and hospitalizations related to Covid.

“We have seen that emergency room visits, cases and hospital admissions are on the increase,” said Dr. David Siegel, Lieutenant Commander of the United States Public Health Service and lead author of the article. . “It could be that Delta is more severe or that Delta is more transmissible, and that could be related to other factors such as masking.”

The study also found that Covid-related emergency room visits and hospital admissions among children were more than three times higher in states with the lowest immunization coverage compared to states with vaccination rates. high, emphasizing the importance of community-wide immunization to protect children. Other important factors that could affect regional differences included measures of masking and social distancing, the study noted.

Last month, as Delta increased, the incidence of Covid in children increased since the start of the summer – reaching 16.2 cases per 100,000 children aged 4 and under; 28.5 cases per 100,000 children aged 5 to 11; and 32.7 cases per 100,000 children aged 12 to 17.

This rate represented a large increase from the June low of 1.7 per 100,000 children aged 4 and under; 1.9 cases per 100,000 children aged 5 to 11; and 2.9 per 100,000 children aged 12 to 17. It was still below the peak incidence of cases in children last January.

The proportion of Covid patients under the age of 17 who were admitted to intensive care units ranged from 10 to 25% from August 2020 to last June, and hovered to 20% in July 2021, according to the CDC study.

In a second study, researchers analyzed data from the Covid-Net surveillance network, which includes information on hospitalizations in 99 counties in 14 states.

During the pandemic – or from March 1, 2020 to August 14, 2021 – there were 49.7 Covid-related hospitalizations per 100,000 children and adolescents, the researchers found.

But weekly rates have been climbing since July. In the week ending August 14, there were 1.4 Covid-related hospitalizations per 100,000 children, up from 0.3 in late June and early July. (This remains slightly lower than the maximum weekly rate of 1.5 hospitalizations per 100,000 children, at the start of January 2021, in the wave of post-holiday cases.)

Hospitalization rates have increased most strongly among children 4 years of age and younger. In the week ending August 14, there were 1.9 hospitalizations per 100,000 children in this age group, almost 10 times more than at the end of June.

But based on the limited data available so far, the Delta variant does not appear to affect the incidence of serious illness or death in children, which has been somewhat stable and relatively low throughout the pandemic. .

Among children and adolescents hospitalized from June 20 to July 31, 23.2 percent were admitted to intensive care, 9.8 percent required mechanical ventilation and 1.8 percent died. These numbers were about the same as those for children hospitalized before the Delta variant became mainstream.

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