Two new studies have found that the delta variant causes an increase in childhood COVID cases, but not severity.
As researchers continue to observe the delta variant, more and more information about the highly contagious strain is coming to light. Moreover, the variant is not only increasing COVID cases in adults but also in children. The United States, in particular, is facing a surge in childhood COVID cases as a result of the delta variant. However, two new studies have found that there is no evidence that the delta variant is causing more severe disease in children.
The two studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that unvaccinated adolescents had 10 times higher hospitalization rates than vaccinated. Moreover, communities with low vaccine coverage reported higher COVID-related hospitalizations among adolescents.
The studies, published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, looked at hospital records from between March 2020 to August 2021. This covered the period when the Delta variant emerged and when it became the dominant strain in the country. According to the results, between 12th June and 3rd July, the country had the lowest weekly hospitalizations for 0–17-year-old. However, by 14th August, the numbers saw a 4.7-fold increase. Moreover, children aged 12-17 and 0-4 had the highest risk of COVID hospitalization.
The Effect of Community Vaccinations
The researchers also looked at signs of the severity of the Delta infection and compared it to the pre-Delta period. Results showed that 23% of children underwent intensive care unit hospitalization in the delta period, compared to 27% pre-delta. Furthermore, 10% required mechanical ventilation in the delta period, compared to 6% pre-delta. The number of deaths in both periods was also statically similar. Thus, revealing the delta variant does not cause a more severe childhood disease.
Another study by the CDC also compared childhood COVID cases and hospitalizations to the community vaccination at the time. They looked at hospital records from June to August 2021. Emergency department visits for COVID-19 are about 3.4 to 3.7 times higher in communities with low vaccination coverage. Thus, revealing the importance of vaccination in reducing cases among all age groups.
It is important to note that the surge in COVID-related hospitalizations is occurring at the same time as the US faces a rise in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Cases.