Children account for 22.4% of COVID cases

And long COVID19 among children isn't looking good either.

Rampant spread among children

Children make, on average, 13.8% (or 3.78 million total cases) of all COVID19 cases in the U.S.

But this is changing. According to a American Academy of Pediatrics, last week children accounted for 22.4% of cases (71,649 out of 319,601 COVID diagnoses). Just one year ago, pediatric cases made up 3% of U.S. cases.

Important note: The definition of a “child” differs across state. Some define a child as ages 0-14, 0-17, 0-18, 0-19, and 0-20 years. And all of this data is pooled together for these numbers and graphs. Age distribution is reported for only 3% of confirmed cases in Texas, resulting in an undercount of child cases. So, TX is excluded from most data/figures. New York does not provide age distribution for state-wide cases, so only NYC numbers are included. This means that numbers are underestimated, but this is the best we got.

Hospitalizations and Deaths

The good news is that children continue to be resilient against the virus and largely avoiding the worst of outcomes: death and hospitalization.

  • Last week, 0.01% of child cases resulted in death and this hasn’t changed since November 5, 2020.

  • 10 states have reported zero child deaths

  • Cumulatively, children are 1.2%-3.1% of total reported hospitalizations

  • Between 0.1%-1.9% of all child COVID19 cases resulted in hospitalization

As I reported earlier this week, though, hospitalizations in some states are increasing among younger populations. This is in thanks to a combination of variants and changes in behavior (relaxed mask mandates, schools opening, sports).

Long COVID

Our understanding of long COVID among children continues to be one of the least understood topics of the pandemic. But evidence is starting to emerge.

A group of UK scientists surveyed parents of children diagnosed with long COVID19 (had symptoms for more than 4 weeks). A total of 510 parents participated between Feb-March 2021. What did they find?

  • Long COVID lasted, on average, 8.2 months among children

  • Long COVID symptoms mirrored adult long COVID: Tiredness and weakness (87% of sample), fatigue (80%), headache (79%), abdominal pain (76%), muscle and joint pain (61%), and rash (52%).

  • 25% of children suffered constant symptoms; 49% had periods of apparent recovery and then symptoms returning (super interesting)

  • 10% children returned to previous levels of physical activity

  • Parents reported their children had lack of concentration (61%), difficulty remembering information (46%), difficulty in doing everyday tasks (40%), difficulty processing information (33%), and short term memory issues (33%)

A smaller study was conducted in Italy. 129 parents were interviewed between Sept 2020-January 2021 by pediatricians about their child’s symptoms after COVID19. What did they find?

  • 42% of children completely recovered, 36% had 1 or 2 symptoms and 23% had 3 or more symptoms

  • 53% had at least one symptom 120 days or more after diagnosis (i.e. long COVID)

  • Symptoms and distress was NOT different between those with initial asymptomatic vs. symptomatic disease

Bottom Line: The virus is spreading among children AND children experience high rates of long COVID (regardless of initial symptomatic disease or not).

What now?

Get vaccinated. This is, by far, the best thing you can do to protect children.

If you’re vaccinated, continue to wear a mask in public so you don’t accidently bring the virus back home.

And, we got great news today that the Pfizer vaccine may be available for adolescents (12+) next week. Word on the street is that the FDA is meeting this Wednesday (and then CDC meets a few days after the FDA, so early next week checks out).

I will, of course, provide cliff notes once I have a chance to pull apart the data!

Love, YLE