Delta variant can make children seriously ill; know how to protect them

In the United States, the Delta variant (B.1.671.2) of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is already dominant. It is estimated that 80% of new cases of COVID-19 are caused by the variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In this scenario, outbreaks of the disease were again registered across the country and the number of infected children also grows, including severe cases. On the other hand, only those who are 12 years old or older can get immunized.

In the scenario of increasing pediatric cases of COVID-19 in the US, the myth that children cannot get seriously ill begins to be disproved. Even though these cases are not that common, they can happen. Since August 2020, more than 49,000 children have been hospitalized due to infection triggered by the coronavirus. This month, the average daily hospitalization is 276 children.

With the Delta variant, the number of hospital admissions of children in hospitals increases in the USA (Image: Reproduction/Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels)

Therefore, doctors and specialists defend that it is essential to protect children against the Delta variant of the coronavirus. This protection will even help control the pandemic in the US, as children also spread the virus. It is worth remembering that, in Brazil, some cities already register community transmission of the variant, such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

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Deaths and lack of vaccines

Even though children are less likely to die from the coronavirus than adults, the number of deaths is significant. This is explained by the director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky. According to federal data, at least 471 US children have died from COVID-19.

In addition, the long-term complications of COVID-19 can also affect children and adolescents, including those who have been asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms. That’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains.

Therefore, the guidance is that pediatric patients with a positive result should have at least one follow-up exam with a pediatrician. Children with moderate or severe forms of the disease may have a higher risk of subsequent heart disease, for example. Again, these questions reinforce the importance of follow-up.

Low demand for vaccines

Furthermore, COVID-19 seems to be more deadly to children than other infectious diseases and one of the explanations for this is the fact that there are no approved vaccines for the entire pediatric population. For other diseases, vaccines are widely available, says James Campbell, professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “No one is dying of polio and measles in the United States. Nobody is dying of diphtheria”, explained the researcher when comparing deaths from other diseases with those from COVID-19.

In addition, another challenge for the US is to encourage COVID-9 vaccination for the entire population. Even with available doses, the country failed to achieve ideal vaccination goals. For example, adolescents aged 12 to 17 years can be immunized, but many still choose not to receive the vaccine. Perhaps, it is necessary to invest in more campaigns that sensitize both parents and schools.

Adolescent demand for vaccines is low (Image: Reproduction/São Paulo City Hall)

In Brazil, the lack of interest of teenagers aged 12 to 17 seems to be repeated. According to data from the city of São Paulo, demand in this age group for immunizing agents is low. So far, only 18,570 doses have been applied to these young people. To scale the question, the target audience is 844,073.

masks in schools

With the Delta variant, the CDC recommends that students, starting in kindergarten, wear masks in school as an important protective measure. The recommendation should be extended to faculty and visitors. In the same direction, APP recommends masks in schools for all people over 2 years old.

“Our children deserve to have safe, full-time learning, in person, with preventive measures. And that includes wearing a mask for everyone in schools,” said CDC Director Walensky. After all, this measure is important for the safe return of classes.

In addition to masks in schools, it is recommended that classrooms have good ventilation, physical distance is maintained, tests of suspected cases must be carried out and the monitoring of patients who are positive for the disease also deserves attention. After all, a single case can be responsible for an outbreak and, consequently, prevent in-person classes.

Source: CNN and São Paulo City Hall

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