Since the Omicron variant alert was launched by South Africa, scientists from all over the world have been looking into it. Geneticists, virologists, microbiologists, and epidemiologists are multiplying the hypotheses and the analyses based on the available data. Although Omicron’s impact is still under observation, the available data and studies confirm the following:
It is a fact that Omicron spreads twice as fast as the Delta variant and would be three times more likely to reinfect unvaccinated people who have already caught Covid.
This variant has a particular mutation profile and has been found in children and vaccinated individuals almost everywhere in Europe. It is spreading and circulating at the same time as Delta.
In South Africa, more and more young children with the Omicron variant end up in hospital: “Nevertheless, the evolution of the disease is less aggressive”. According to Hugo Johan Tempelman, a Dutch doctor, interviewed by La libre: it is more often young children who have not yet been vaccinated who end up in hospital in South Africa. But fortunately, their symptoms are milder and different from those of the delta variant.
In the UK, the latest data (December 11.2021) from the Office for National Statistics and UK Health Security Agency shows that Positivity rates were highest in young children, but hospital admissions and deaths were highest among older people. The hospital admission rate among those aged 5 to 14 years remains higher than the mid-January peak, at 129% of the rate seen in the week ending 17 January 2021. Despite this, the hospital admission rate in this age group was the lowest.
In the USA, the recent American Academy of Pediatrics reports show that As of December 9, nearly 7.2 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. COVID cases among children are extremely high: over 164,000 child cases were added the past week, an increase of nearly 24% over the prior week. For the 18th week in a row child COVID-19 cases are above 100,000. Since the first week of September, there have been over 2.1 million additional child cases.
Among states reporting, children ranged from 1.7%-4.0% of their total cumulated hospitalizations, and 0.1%-1.9% of all their child COVID-19 cases resulted in hospitalization.
Alarmingly, hospital data from Tshwane (South Africa), which is the center of the resurgence of the epidemic, the under-five infants are the second most affected age group (after the over-60s).
The World Health Organisation WHO has called for better protection of children, currently the most affected age group, while keeping mandatory vaccination of the population as an option of “absolute last resort”. To avoid further classroom closures and the return of distance learning, the organization’s European branch advises increased testing in schools and consideration of vaccination for school children.
The Portuguese health authority has recommended that children aged five to 11 be vaccinated against Covid-19; Portugal, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, is experiencing an increase in infections.
Spanish health authorities have also authorized the vaccination of children between the ages of five and 11, which will begin on December 15, in response to an increase in cases in Spain. And Cuba has approved the emergency use of its Soberana Plus vaccine for children over the age of two recovering from Covid-19.
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