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How Does the Delta Variant Affect Kids?

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Key lessons learned

  • The COVID-19 Delta variant is highly contagious and spreads rapidly among unvaccinated people.
  • Anthony Fauci recently stated that children are at a higher risk of infection, but the infection will not necessarily be worse than the Alpha breed.
  • Parents should get vaccinated themselves and continue to have their children wear masks.

Just when parents thought they might finally start to relax about COVID-19, the Delta variant emerged. From the beginning of the pandemic, we knew there could be future virus mutations, and now there are, leaving parents wondering if they need to reimplement all of their protection strategies. defense that they have learned or not.

On June 23, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and chief medical adviser to the president, commented on CBS This Morning that children “will be more likely to be infected” with this variant than the Alpha variety. This has raised a number of concerns across the country from parents, caregivers and educators, who are continuing to try to protect unvaccinated children under 12 from the virus. withdraw.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that we’ve had four notable variants to date in the US, named Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, starting with Alpha in September. December 2020 and progress through Delta, through March 2021. Fortunately, they have also determined that “currently authorized vaccines work on circulating variants,” which they continue to continue research.

What do we know about the Delta variant so far?

Most importantly, we know that it spreads more easily than the variants that preceded it. Glenn Rapsinski, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, says that “data from the UK suggest that this variant is 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant. highly contagious”.

Glenn Rapsinski, MD

In this case, children, especially under 12 years of age, are very susceptible because they have not been vaccinated against COVID.

– Glenn Rapsinski, MD

He explained that Dr. Fauci’s comment on the variant referring to increased transmission is a concern for any susceptible group. “In this case, children, especially under the age of 12, are very susceptible because they have not been immunized against COVID,” he said.

This variant has also been linked in preliminary reports, Rapsinski explains, in that adults with Delta are more likely to need hospitalization than Alpha.

Where is it spreading?

Scientists are studying the spread of Delta across the country and the world, focusing on areas that have not been vaccinated. As reported by the CDC, just under half of the country’s population has been vaccinated (54.2% received one dose and 46.4% received both).

As of June 5, CDC reported that the Delta variant represents approximately 25% of new cases in Departments of Health and Human Services Area 8 (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, and Wyoming) Utah) and nearly 35% in Region 7 (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas) and less than 20% in other regions.

“Given its high transmissibility, it has the potential to become the dominant variant in the US, with the fastest transmission rates in states and regions with low vaccination coverage,” Rapsinski said.

Elisa Song, MD, a holistic pediatrician in Belmont, CA, has tracked the spread in Israel, where 90% of new infections are caused by the Delta variant. The Israeli data also help us understand how effective the vaccine is against this variant. “50% of people infected with the Delta variant in Israel are considered to have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine,” she said.

A study published June 19 looking at antibodies from vaccinated individuals found that “neutralization is nearly six times lower against the Delta variant than against the SARS-CoV- 2 initially,” she said.

How do variants affect children?

While Rapsinski says adults are more likely to get serious illness from the Delta variant, he’s hesitant based on current data to say the same for children. It is a reassuring fact that reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics show that although the Delta variant is circulating, the total number of childhood cases is still decreasing.

Elisa Song, MD

And fortunately, despite the many variations in the US, the rate of child hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-9 has remained very low throughout the pandemic.

– Elisa Song, MD

“Weekly new COVID-19 cases in children have been falling steadily since the week of April 15 and are very low since the week of June 3 and are increasingly making up a smaller percentage of all cases. US weekly report,” explains Song. “And fortunately, despite the wide variation in the United States, the rate of child hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-9 has remained at a very low, steady rate throughout the pandemic.”

The potential symptoms parents should look out for are different from the original COVID-19 strain. Song says the Delta variant can feel like a worse cold in younger populations. Don’t trust the once-common sign of loss of taste and smell.

Rapsinski has also seen some reports of more stomach symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Like previous variants, children and adults can also get Delta variant but experience absolutely no symptoms.

What Can Parents Do To Protect Their Children?

There are some specific steps doctors say will limit your child’s chances of getting the Delta variant and COVID-19 in general.

Vaccination

Song explained: Although children under 12 years of age are not vaccinated against COVID-19, parents who do have and choose to get vaccinated can protect their children. She said a recent study found that for every 20-point increase in adult vaccination rates, the risk of infection in children is halved.

According to Kunjana Mavunda, MD, pediatrician and traveling medicine doctor at KIDZ Medical in Doral, vaccines for parents have been shown to minimize their becoming a “carrier.” Florida.

“Carriers are people who can harbor the virus in their nasopharynx and may have no symptoms — but they can pass the virus on to others who may be sick. Parents can prevent the transmission of this virus to their children by being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.”

Slow down your “Reopening” plans

While everyone is excited to fully reopen all aspects of society, from concerts to beach trips to weddings, Song advises parents to do so slowly. “We must balance the need for ‘normal’ and supporting the mental and social health needs of our children with the risk of opening up too quickly and carelessly to the many unknowns that the Delta variant brings. .” So consider moving to meet friends outside whenever possible and keep gatherings small.

She hopes this will prevent future lockdowns from recurring. “It’s not over yet, and going back from happy freedom back to crushing lockdown could be more detrimental to our children’s mental health than a gradual, fast-paced reopening. rather, use good data to scale operations securely.”

Rethinking travel details

Mavunda recommends that over the past year or so, everyone has been eager to travel, but perhaps you should reconsider certain details of your travel plans to increase visibility. She offers specific ways to travel while reducing your risk of getting the Delta variant:

  • Choose direct flights at the least popular times
  • Be aware that airports are not the most conducive to social distancing
  • Avoid cruises
  • Taking the train can be fine if you can maintain some social distance
  • Wash your hands often and wear a mask when traveling

Calm

Just as some parents feel panic at the start of a pandemic, new strains of bacteria can trigger these feelings again. But, Song said, “Do parents need to worry more about their children? It’s not necessary.” Instead, she warns against making decisions out of fear.

“During a pandemic, fear is the driving force behind many parental policies and decisions. It’s time to make decisions based on facts instead of fear.”

What does this mean for you?

The Delta variant is of concern, but parents shouldn’t panic. This variant is generally very contagious, but children still seem to have mild cases. If your child has not been immunized, you should continue to have them wear a mask and keep social distance. Hopefully there will be a vaccine for children soon.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available as you read. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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