According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the percentage of children infected with COVID-19 is increasing compared to a year ago. That may sound alarming if you just look at the percentages, but if you put the numbers in context, it’s not necessarily bad news.
Children were responsible for 2% of new COVID-19 infections a year ago. Now they account for more than 24% of new weekly cases.
Children represent a greater percentage of new cases, but in general there are not that many new cases because a large percentage of the population is vaccinated.
“The number of actual childhood cases is not increasing dramatically,” said Dr. Stephen Spector, a distinguished professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at UC San Diego. “I think this really tells us how effective the vaccines are.”
There is concern that the vaccine may have caused inflammation of the heart muscle in young adults who have received the vaccine. Even before COVID, doctors said teenage men and men in their 20s looked more like myocarditis.
“It would be expected that in these younger children who have not been identified as being in this risk group for myocarditis and pericarditis, the risk for these children will be significantly less than in the older group of teens and young adults,” he said.
Dr Spector said the rate of pediatric COVID-19 infections shows the importance of getting a safe vaccine for children under 12.
“I think the really important message here is that we need to be able to do the studies as quickly and again and as safely as possible so that we can start immunizing those younger children that we see now becoming infected with COVID-19” , he said.
Dr. Spector is working with UCSD and Rady Children’s Hospital on clinical trials of the Moderna vaccine for children under 12 years of age. He said it’s possible a vaccine for those 6 to 11 years could get approval for emergency use by the fall.