United States Covid-19: Record number of children hospitalized as global Covid-19 hospitalizations exceed Delta peak

It follows a record number of new cases of Covid-19 in children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The United States recorded more than 325,000 new cases in children during the week ending December 30, according to data released this week by the AAP, marking a 64% increase in new cases of children by compared to the previous week, the AAP said.

And in all age groups, hospitalizations linked to Covid-19 have taken a new step.

As of Tuesday, 112,941 Americans were hospitalized with Covid-19, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The new figure far exceeds the peak in hospitalizations during the Delta variant outbreak – nearly 104,000 in early September. It also comes close to the high number of Covid-19 patients hospitalized in a single day – 142,246, on January 14 of last year.

“Unfortunately, this is the consequence of a highly transmissible variant, the Omicron variant,” US surgeon general Vivek Murthy told CNN on Tuesday.

In just four weeks, Omicron has gone from around 8% of new Covid-19 infections to around 95% of new infections, according to the CDC.

The Omicron variant is up to three times more contagious than the Delta variant, the CDC said on Tuesday.

Today, more and more hospital intensive care units are approaching capacity.

Nationally, 1 in 5 hospitals with an intensive care unit said its beds in that unit were at least 95% full last week, according to DHHS data. And more than a quarter of intensive care beds nationwide were occupied by Covid-19 patients.

The surgeon general reiterated what many doctors reported this winter: The vast majority of hospitalized Covid-19 patients are not vaccinated and boosted.

“Remember, these vaccines work. These boosters are more important than ever,” Murthy said.

And millions more children who return to school may soon receive a reminder.

Dr Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday, “No one has suffered, I think, from social isolation from not being more educated. than the children “.

“I think we want the kids to be in school. But if we want them to be in school then we have to do everything we can to keep them in school,” Offit said. “With the masking, social distancing and vaccination, I think we can really get away with it.”

“If teachers are to be immunized, bus drivers must be immunized and children over 5 years old must be immunized, and then we can have what we all want, the precious thing we all want is- that is to say find our children. at school. But we have to do it responsibly, ”Offit said.

Medical analyst Dr Leana Wen told CNN’s Wolfe Blitzer on Tuesday that the pandemic was different at this point for those who are vaccinated and that imposing restrictions on those vaccinated “is not reasonable.”

“At the same time, we can’t say ‘everyone have Omicron’ because we’re going to overwhelm our healthcare systems. So there’s this practical middle ground that we have to find,” she said. . One example she used was not to shut things up, “but to require masking on the inside with high quality masks.”

CDC Updates Guidelines on Masks and Isolation

Sheet masks can still be used to protect against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, as long as they fit properly and filter the air properly, the CDC said.

The CDC has referred to its existing guidelines on mask use in the updated recommendations for isolation after a positive Covid-19 test and post-exposure quarantine.

People should wear masks after testing positive and isolating themselves for five days to protect others, as people can remain infectious for up to 14 days after testing positive, according to the guidelines.

Facing criticism, CDC updates Covid-19 isolation recommendations with advice on testing

“The masks are designed to contain your respiratory droplets and particles. They also give you some protection against particles expelled by others,” the CDC noted in Tuesday’s update.

All masks should fit snugly, so that air does not escape around the edges of the mask but is filtered through the material, the CDC said. All masks should have a thread to fit tightly with the mask on the bridge of the nose. Cloth masks should have multiple layers of cloth, the CDC said.

Using a cloth mask over a disposable surgical-style mask can provide good protection, the CDC said. The CDC recommends holding fabric masks up to the light and said if the light is passing through, it is too thin.

Pediatrician answers your questions about Pfizer boosters for 12 to 15 year olds
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has helped the United States Food and Drug Administration allow booster doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old, the acting FDA commissioner said on Monday. , Dr Janet Woodcock.

For everyone aged 12 and over, the FDA has also reduced the time between the second dose of Pfizer vaccine and the booster dose from six months to five months.

The FDA has also authorized booster doses for certain children aged 5 to 11 who are immunocompromised, including those who have received organ transplants.

“Staggering” number of cases of Omicron in pediatric hospital

In the country’s largest pediatric hospital, hospitalizations for Covid-19 have quadrupled in the past two weeks alone, fueled by the Omicron variant, the most contagious strain of novel coronavirus to hit the United States.

“We already have staggering numbers here since this Omicron push,” said Dr. Jim Versalovic, chief pathologist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

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“We broke earlier records that were set during the delta surge in August.”

Sequencing showed that 90% of recent Covid-19 patients at the hospital had been infected with the Omicron variant, Versalovic said.

Like the surgeon general, Versalovic said vaccinations are essential to minimize hospitalizations from Covid-19.

Yet more than 80% of school-aged children in the Houston area are unvaccinated, Versalovic said.

And more than a third of recent Covid-19 patients at the hospital are under 5 years old. “Unfortunately, these children still don’t have access to a vaccine,” Versalovic said.

In New York City, “We are seeing more Covid now than we have seen in previous waves,” said pediatrician Dr Edith Bracho-Sanchez.

“And it’s worrying that the worst of winter here hasn’t been over. And we’re bracing for what’s yet to come.”

Doctors: don’t underestimate the impact on children

Pediatricians have acknowledged that some patients with Covid-19 may in fact have sought treatment for another disease and have tested positive for the coronavirus.

But “it is clear that the majority of cases have either Covid-19 as a primary factor or as a significant contributing factor to their hospitalization,” said Versalovic, the chief pathologist at Texas Children’s.

And the recent record number of pediatric hospitalizations for Covid-19 – along with severe illness in some children – means the current outbreak should not be ignored.

“We would be foolish to continue to minimize Covid-19 in children at this point in the pandemic,” Bracho-Sanchez said.

Early studies suggest that Omicron causes less severe disease than the Delta variant. But Omicron is much more contagious.

And early research suggested that Omicron may cause more upper airway problems, unlike previous strains causing lower airway problems.

Upper respiratory tract complications can be more dangerous for young children than for adults, Bracho-Sanchez said.

“We cannot treat the airways of children as if they were the airways of adults,” she said.

“And for us pediatricians, we know that respiratory viruses can lead to… croup and bronchiolitis, that inflammation of the upper respiratory tract that causes problems in children.”

CNN’s Deidre McPhillips, Ben Tinker, Virginia Langmaid, Miguel Marquez, Matthew Hilk, Maggie Fox, Katherine Dillinger and Jen Christensen contributed to this report.

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