Children under five years old began contracting COVID-19 at much higher rates when Omicron reached the US but this did not result in more children experiencing severe disease, according to international experts. The researchers used health records to compare the rate of infection and severe disease outcomes between two different periods of Delta spread and when Omicron took over. The researchers say about 1-1.5 infants in 1000 caught COVID-19 during Delta, but that rose to 2.4 to 5.6 in December and peaked at 8.6 infants per 1000 in early January as Omicron took hold. They say the risk of severe outcomes was significantly lower for children infected with Omicron.
Journal/conference: JAMA Pediatrics
Link to research (DOI): 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2022.0945
Organisation/s: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, USA
Funder: This study was supported by grants AG057557, AG061388,
and AG062272 from the National Institute on Aging, grant R01AA029831 from
the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, grant UG1DA049435
from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, grant 1UL1TR002548-01 from the
Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland, and grants
R25CA221718, P30 CA043703, and P20 CA2332216 from the National Cancer
Institute Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.
What The Study Did: The results of this study including 650,000 children suggest that the incidence rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection with Omicron variant was six to eight times that of Delta variant in children younger than age 5, but severe clinical outcomes were less frequent than with Delta variant. Study limitations include potential biases introduced by the observational and retrospective analyses of electronic health records and the need for validation of the results from other data.
Authors: Rong Xu, Ph.D., of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, is the corresponding author.
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