Covid-19 cases in children are up 32% from two weeks ago, according to new numbers published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
For the week ending November 18, there were at least 141,905 new cases among children, with children making up a disproportionate share of the cases, representing more than a quarter of all new Covid-19 cases for the past week. Children account for 22% of the US population. When the virus first became a known problem in the US in early 2020, kids accounted for fewer than 3% of confirmed cases. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 6.8 million children have tested positive for Covid-19.
Cases for every age group have been trending upward in recent week. They had dropped off quickly after a summer surge, but have started to climb again and have returned to levels last seen in August. This is something that was not unexpected, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.
"We have a lot of virus circulating around," Fauci told anchor Dana Bash.
With millions of people still unvaccinated, that "results in the dynamic of virus in the community that not only is dangerous and makes people who are unvaccinated vulnerable, but it also spills over into the vaccinated people because no vaccine is 100% effective," Fauci said.
The number of children with Covid-19 is still considered "extremely high," the AAP report said. This marks the 15th week in a row that child Covid-19 cases are number than 100,000.
It's still less likely for children to be hospitalized with Covid-19 compared to adults, but in the states that report hospitalizations by age, kids made up between 1.7% and 4.0% of those who needed to be treated at the hospital for Covid-19, which has remained relatively consistent throughout the pandemic.
Only a small percentage of child Covid-19 cases result in death. Six states reported zero child deaths from Covid-19 in the latest AAP report. In states reporting death by age, 0.00% - 0.25% of all child Covid-19 cases resulted in death, according to the report. But 939 children have died from Covid-19 in the United States since the start of the pandemic, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Children ages 5 and older are now eligible to get Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine. A study conducted by Pfizer showed that its vaccine efficacy was more than 90% against symptomatic disease. Newly eligible children, ages 5 to 11 years old, made up more than 42% of the people who got the vaccine in the last two weeks; however, children overall are still the least vaccinated of any age group.
A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that two-thirds of parents want to wait and see, or are refusing to vaccinate their children.
Vaccine experts Dr. Paul Offit and Dr. Jeffrey Gerber have been urging parents to get their children vaccinated, arguing that without vaccination, almost all young children will get infected in an editorial published last week in Science.
"Make no mistake—COVID-19 is a childhood illness," they wrote. "Although it is true that most children experience asymptomatic or mild disease, some will get quite sick, and a small number will die. It's why children are vaccinated against influenza, meningitis, chickenpox, and hepatitis—none of which, even before vaccines were available, killed as many as SARS-CoV-2 per year."
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