Coronavirus cases among children are rising across the U.S. Last week, 94,000 cases in kids were reported — a 31% increase from the week before.
Dr. Rick Malley, an infectious disease physician at Boston Children's Hospital, says that, so far, we have not seen an increase in COVID cases among children in Massachusetts. He joined WBUR's Morning Edition to discuss.
Below are highlights from their conversation, which have been lightly edited.
On the severity of COVID-19 cases in children:
“In general, COVID in children — including, so far as we could tell, the delta variant — is much less severe than it is in older adults or in the immunocompromised.
"[What's going on] in other states is sadly the consequence of large numbers of infections that gradually trickle down, unfortunately, to kids. And even if kids are at much lower risk of severe infection, when you have a very large number of children that are exposed, unfortunately, that results in a number of kids who get severely sick. But in general, that does not seem to be a property of the delta variant compared to other variants. And in fact, in the United Kingdom, there's some data to suggest that the delta variant may in fact result in fewer hospitalizations in children than the other variants that we've seen previously for the same number of infections."
On "long COVID" in children:
"It's unfortunately an area of medicine that we are only beginning to learn right now. ... It involves a constellation of symptoms. They can involve, for example, children who have persistent fatigue, who have difficulty concentrating. Some of them might have respiratory or cardiac problems. And it's important to try to understand which of these are related and how best to treat them."
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On when vaccines will be available for children:
"If the process goes smoothly, [maybe the end of the year or early 2022]. The FDA has requested that Pfizer and Moderna, which are evaluating their vaccines in children today, double the number of children they were including in the studies to address some safety concerns that have arisen since the mRNA vaccines were given to younger adults and children.
"That concern in particular is for a form of heart inflammation was noted, particularly in males, especially those under the age of 25. This risk seemed to increase as the age of the patient decreased. It's still a very rare side effect, but if the data suggests that the risk might be greater in 5- to 11-year-old kids and greater in 12- to 16-year-old kids than it is in adults, that would potentially put a little bit of doubt to when the vaccines would be authorized in children."
This segment aired on August 11, 2021.