Variant Causes Youth Surge in COVID Cases

Caroline Dardeau, Editor in Sports

COVID-19 has no mercy for anyone, and regardless of age, anyone can be affected. Children of all ages can contract the illness, but it is abnormal for them to get as sick as adults normally do. The number of children infected by COVID is 5 times the number it was in July, which is no surprise considering school starting this fall. Some kids have not shown symptoms at all, and when they have, the symptoms are mild. In the US, children currently represent 13% of COVID-19 cases. Children younger than 14 years old are less likely to become infected with the virus, compared to those 20 years and older. According to the CDC, few children have become severely ill. Despite that, children have been hospitalized, treated in the intensive care unit, and some have been placed on a ventilator to breathe. 

Since children age eleven and under are currently unable to receive the vaccine, and overall state vaccination rates are low. Children’s hospitalization is surging at an all time high. As students have returned to the classroom. The FDA is just now approving the vaccine for children under 11, and they are working to make the pediatric vaccine available. A lot of parents were concerned about their child going back into a crowded room without enough room to properly social distance.

The first results, released on September 20, 2021, the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 is promising. Pharmaceutical companies have said that the early results indicate that the vaccine is safe and showing a strong antibody response against the virus. They continue to give a two dose distribution administered 21 days between the two doses. Side effects are similar and comparable to the side effects of those 16-25 years old who received the vaccine. For the safety of young children the dosage is 10 micrograms, rather than the 30 microgram dose for people 12 and older.  

Pediatric cases of COVID-19 are increasing and some hospitals are struggling to manage the surge. 

“Since July pediatric cases of COVID-19 have risen by about 240 percent in the U.S. — underscoring the public health need for vaccination.” said Albert Bourla, the Chairman and CEO for Pfizer. 

All of this considered, the COVID-19 vaccine will have to wait until at least the end of 2021 to be approved for children ages 5-11. As for children 5 and under, the trial results could possibly come later this year.

South Carolina has gone from 150 cases a day to over 5,000 cases a day, mainly occurring in kids. One hospital in South Carolina reported that they have 7 children on ventilators.  The Delta variant is different, and children are becoming significantly more ill when contracting it. In the first wave of COVID-19 cases, older people were the ones in hospitals, but now it is the children who have to wait for their vaccination. Many schools are turning back to online or remote learning, when mask mandates are not allowed in their state. 

The Delta Variant is impacting children more severely than the other variants have. However, scientists seem unsure whether the Delta Variant is actually harsher on children’s bodies, or if the variant is just more contagious. Currently, the South and the Midwest is where the surges have been occurring. Pediatric hospitals in those regions are running out of beds. For instance, Kentucky hospitals are reaching full capacity as the disease continues to spread among children. One-fifth of Kentucky schools have closed their doors for in person learning.  Recently, Kentucky has seen a rise in cases of up to three times the number of children coming into the hospitals. 

Academically speaking, many children are struggling, particularly elementary students, because those early years are developmental. Between those who have been contact-traced and those actually contracting COVID-19, these kids feel they are being excluded and missing out on vital information. 

Viruses can affect children into adulthood. There are changes in vascular, brain, and organ issues which have potential significant impacts on the rest of their lives.  Schools know they cannot control whether or not staff members are vaccinated, Pediatrician Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen said “We shouldn’t be putting our children into an environment that we know can harm them, or potentially kill them”. It is unsafe for children to be placed in a situation that can harm them where people are unvaccinated or unmasked. Overall, there is an uprise in the effects of COVID-19 in children and their vaccine will be coming out shortly.