Omicron ‘less severe’ than Delta for children ages 4 and younger, study suggests

New research from the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine indicates that children younger than 5 years who are infected with the COVID-19 Omicron variant have a lower risk of serious health consequences than those who are infected with the Delta variant.

The study, published Friday in JAMA Pediatrics, is the first large-scale research effort to compare the health outcomes of coronavirus infection from Omicron to Delta in children 4 and younger – the age group that can not yet be vaccinated.

The findings show that the Omicron variant is 6-8 times more contagious than the Delta variant. The serious clinical results varied from a 16% lower risk of emergency visits to an 85% lower risk of mechanical ventilation. And about 1.8% of children infected with Omicron were hospitalized, compared with 3.3% with Delta.

The Case Western Reserve-led team analyzed the electronic health records of more than 651,640 children in the United States who had medical appointments with health care organizations between 9 / 2021-1 / 2022 – including more than 22,772 children infected with Omicron in late December and late January – to more than 66,000 children who became infected when Delta was widespread in the autumn. The study also compared records of more than 10,000 children immediately before the discovery of Omicron in the United States, but when Delta was still dominant.

Children under 5 years of age are not yet eligible for the covid-19 vaccine and have a low rate of previous SARS-CoV-2 infections, which also limits their pre-existing immunity.

The team examined clinical health outcomes for pediatric patients during a 14-day window following SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among the factors they examined were: emergency visits, hospitalizations, intensive care units and the use of mechanical ventilation.

Further demographic data analysis showed that children infected with Omicron were on average younger – 1.5 years old compared to 1.7 years – and had fewer comorbidities.

“The most important conclusion of our research was that many more children were infected with Omicron compared to Delta, but the children who are infected are not as severely affected as children infected with the Delta variant,” said Pamela Davis, Arline H. and Curtis F. Garvin. research professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “But because there are so many more children infected, our hospitals were affected during the winter months by an influx of young children.”

“We saw the number of hospital admissions in this age group skyrocket in January this year as the infection rate for Omicron is about 10 to 15 times compared to the Delta variant,” said Rong Xu, professor of biomedical infomacy and director of the Center for AI in Drug Discovery at School of Medicine. Omicron is less severe than Delta, but the reduction in the severity range in clinical outcomes is only 16 to 85%. In addition, because so many unvaccinated children were infected, the long-term effects of covid-19 infections are on brain, heart, immune systems and others. organs in children are still unknown and worrying. “

The CDC recommends that those 5 years of age and older receive a covid-19 vaccine, and that fully vaccinated individuals 12 years of age and older receive a booster syringe. According to updated guidance from the CDC, Americans no longer need to disguise themselves indoors in counties with low or medium “Covid-19 Community Level”.

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Material provided by Case Western Reserve University. Note! The content can be edited for style and length.


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