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An alarming number of children are still testing positive for the coronavirus.
“The number of new child COVID cases remains exceptionally high,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said last week. “Over 148,000 cases were added the past week, with over 750,000 child cases added over the past 4 weeks.”
The AAP said that since the start of the pandemic, children represent 16.3% of total cumulated cases. But for the week ending Oct. 7, children were 24.8% of reported weekly cases.
Health experts say the increase in pediatric cases is caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant, relaxed restrictions, and ineligibility for children under 12 to get vaccines.
“Definitely over the last eight weeks we’ve seen dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in kids,” said Donna Tyungu, MD, a pediatric infectious disease physician at OU Health in Oklahoma City, according to USA Today. “It started right when we started school.”
USA Today said that COVID hospitalizations of children hit a peak of three per 100,000 the week of Sept. 5 but have declined since then across the nation. However, numbers have not gone down in more than a dozen states, including Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Delaware, and Vermont.
One thing giving hope to medical experts is that Pfizer/BioNTech is seeking federal emergency authorization for a vaccine for kids 5- to 11-years-old. Two sources told Reuters that the authorization might be granted near the end of October.
The timeline is based on the expectation that Pfizer will have enough data from clinical trials to request FDA emergency use authorization for the age group near the end of September.
American Academy of Pediatrics. “Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report”
USA Today: “Kids testing positive at higher rates than adults; gender wage gap impacted by COVID workforce loss: Today’s COVID-19 updates”