COVID-19 Children’s Corner: December

December 3, 2021 by

COVID-19 children’s corner: brief updates on epidemiology, variants, vaccines and more…

by Dr. Morgan Weyant, MD and Dr. Debbie-Ann Shirley, MD

The pandemic and children.

Nearly 6.9 million child cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States as of November 25th, with 132,000 new cases in the past week. While cases continue to decline since the delta surge, this is the 16th week in a row with pediatric cases of COVID-19 exceed 100,000/ week. Children account for 25% of all weekly COVID-19 cases, although this age group accounts for 22% of the US population. Children continue to be less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, but severe outcomes continue to occur with about 750 total deaths from COVID-19 reported to date. There have been an additional 5,973 cases of MIS-C with 52 deaths from MIS-C in the US.

Continue to follow Virginia-specific data through the Virginia Department of Health website, which now includes cases among children in their COVID-19 dashboard page.

Variants of concern.

Omicron (lineage B.1.1.529), the newest COVID-19 variant, has arrived in the United States after being originally identified in Botswana on November 11, 2021. Although little is known about this variant, preliminary data suggests that mutations in the receptor binding protein may lead to increased infectivity. Thus far, infection with the Omicron variant seems to be similar to other strains of COVID-19, ranging from asymptomatic to severe illness requiring hospitalization or death. For healthcare providers, a travel history remains vital to identify possible domestic Omicron cases. Thus far, no data exists on the effectiveness of current treatments against the Omicron variant. As always, vaccination, masking, social distancing, and handwashing are essential to preventing the spread of the COVID-19 and the variants. Booster vaccine doses for everyone 18+ are now recommended, including new mix and match options.

COVID-19 vaccines and children.

The pediatric formulation of the Pfizer vaccine was authorized by the FDA for children 5 to 11 years on October 29, 2021 and thus far,  over 1500 children in this age group have been vaccinated at UVA and the Pediatric Community Vaccination Center in the Battle Building. The Pfizer vaccine was shown to be 91% effective at preventing COVID-19 in this age group, stimulating good antibody responses and is well tolerated, with the most common side effect being pain at the injection site. In the older age group, adolescents ages 12 to 18, the Pfizer vaccines was recently shown to reduce hospitalizations by 93%. Pfizer may soon request expansion of the FDA authorization for booster doses to include those 16 to 18 years of age.

Coming soon, Moderna has also released preliminary results for their trial in children 6 to 11 years, which shows that their vaccine produces an immune response rate of 99%. This vaccine is also well tolerated. Next, Moderna plans to submit the data to the FDA for further review.

Finally, the Pfizer trial to vaccine younger children, ages 2 to 5 years and 6 months to 2 years, is currently underway with results expected later this year or at the beginning of next year.

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