Infants up to two months old and adolescents 12-17 years old are the two age groups of children most at risk of needing care after Covid-19 infection, according to a study by scientists at the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC). On average, between the ages of 0-17, a child in about 100 will be admitted to hospital if they catch a coronavirus.
The researchers, who made the publication in Eurosurveillance, analyzed data from ten European countries (including Cyprus, but not Greece) for the period August 2020-October 2021 (when the new Omicron variant had not yet appeared). Of the approximately 820,000 total confirmed cases of Covid-19 in children under 17 years of age, 9,611 (1.2% or approximately one in 100) required hospitalization, 640 (0.08% of cases and almost 7% of hospitalized children) needed admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) and 84 (0.01%) eventually died.
“Most children with symptomatic Covid-19 disease have a very low risk of death or hospitalization,” the researchers said. For every 10,000 pediatric cases with Covid-19 symptoms, it is estimated that approximately 117 require hospitalization, eight ICU admissions, and one dies (based on at least one prior to Omicron).
The analysis concluded that the younger age group up to two months has the highest risk of hospitalization due to Covid-19. The risk then decreases by the age of nine and increases again by the age of 12 to 17.
The risk of a serious outcome of Covid-19 is higher in children with underlying diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The chances of hospitalization, ICU admission and death are seven, nine and 27 times higher respectively for children with at least one comorbidity. However, the vast majority (almost 84%) of children treated with Covid-19 have no underlying disease, which means that otherwise healthy children may well need hospitalization if they become infected with the coronavirus.
The researchers pointed out that after July this year, pediatric cases show a large increase, mainly due to the prevalence of Delta. What exactly will happen due to the very probable dominance of Omicron, remains to be seen. As only 15.2% of children under 18 had been fully vaccinated in Europe by the end of November (with rates ranging from just 1% to 29% per country), ECDC scientists note that these large numbers of unvaccinated children It is estimated that they will now be exposed to the coronavirus, which will lead to an increase in the absolute number of children, both with and without underlying diseases, who will be seriously ill with Covid-19. This means that vaccination in children must be speeded up, and it can also bode well for the health system.
Link to the scientific publication: https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2021.26.50.2101098
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