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

New research from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine suggests that children under the age of 5 who are infected with the COVID-19 Omicron variant have severe health problems compared to those infected with the delta variant. The risk of consequences is low.

study, published Friday in JAMA Pediatrics, This is the first large-scale research effort to compare the health outcomes of coronavirus infection from Omron to Delta in children 4 and under – the age group not yet able to be vaccinated.

The findings suggest that the Omicron variant is 6-8 times more contagious than the delta variant. Serious clinical outcomes ranged from a 16% lower risk for emergency room visits to an 85% lower risk for mechanical ventilation. And about 1.8% of children infected with Omicron were hospitalized, compared to 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 encounters with health organizations between 9/2021-1/2022—including between late December and late December. More than 22,772 children from the U.S. were infected with Omicron. January – More than 66,000 children were infected when Delta was prevalent in the fall. The study compared the records of more than 10,000 children in the US, just before Omicron was detected, but when Delta was still dominant.

Children under the age of 5 are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines 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 period following SARS-CoV-2 infection. The factors they reviewed were: emergency room visits, hospitalization, ICU admission, and use of mechanical ventilation.

Further demographic data analysis found that children infected with Omicron were, on average, less than 1.7 years of age compared to 1.5 years of age—and had fewer concomitant diseases.

“The major finding of our research was that many more children were infected with Omicron than Delta, but children who are infected are not as severely affected as children infected with the Delta variant,” said Pamela Davis, Arline H. he said. and Curtis F. Garvin Research Professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “However, because so many children are infected, our hospitals were hit by an influx of young children in the winter months.”

“We saw an increase in the number of hospitalizations within this age group in January of this year because Omicron’s infection rate is about 10 to 15 times that of the delta version,” said Rong Xu, professor and director of Biomedical Informatics. Center for AI in Drug Discovery at the School of Medicine. “Omicron is less severe than Delta, however, the reduction in the severity range in clinical outcomes is only 16 to 85%. In addition, since so many non-vaccinated children were infected, the brain, heart, immune system And the long-term effects of COVID-19 infection on children’s other organs remain unknown and worrying.”

The CDC recommends that people 5 years of age and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and fully vaccinated people 12 years of age and older receive a booster shot. Americans are no longer required to wear masks indoors in counties with low or medium “Covid-19 community levels,” according to updated guidance by the CDC.

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Material provided by Case Western Reserve University, Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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