By Nikhila Natarajan
New York, Aug 11 (IANS): Covid-19 cases among US children are climbing at an alarming rate, with nearly 94,000 diagnosed with the virus last week and trends showing a "continuing substantial increase".
Children now account for 15 per cent of Covid-19 cases in the US, according to a study released by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The same set of numbers also appear to show that severe illness, hospitalization and death are rare in children who get sick with the coronavirus.
In states where data was available, less than 2 per cent of all child Covid-19 cases required hospitalisation. In states reporting, only 0.00-0.03 per cent of all child Covid-19 cases resulted in death, according to AAP.
As of August 5, nearly 4.3 million children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic. Child cases have steadily increased since the beginning of July, says the AAP report.
At this time, nearly 60 per cent of US kids over 12 years have been fully vaccinated and nearly 70 per cent have got at least one shot. Shots for kids under 12 years have not yet been authorised.
Pfizer received emergency use authorization for vaccinating those 12 years of age and older; the Moderna and Janssen vaccines are authorised for people 18 years of age and older. Pfizer is expected to apply for emergency approval of its under -12 years shot by October this year. Meanwhile, schools have already started reopening for the Fall term.
The latest data from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention are showing a remarkable shift in caseloads. The 5-11 year olds and 11-15 year olds now account for more cases per 100,000 population than do age group cohorts over 50 years.
National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said on Sunday that the highest number of children — 1,450 — were currently hospitalized with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Fears are spiralling that states without tough mask mandates will likely be slammed once again by rising Covid-19 cases as students return to the classroom. The CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Many state governors are defying the mandate even as their ICU corridors are overrun.
US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he was "very concerned" about case trends among school children. He noted that most of the children getting sick are living in states with low vaccination rates. "So, my plea is that for those who are not vaccinated, think about it."
As on August 10, 51 per cent of the US population is fully vaccinated. More than 71 per cent of US adults have got at least one shot. The White House is calling the latest wave a "pandemic of the unvaccinated" and pleading with holdouts to get their shots.
The first case of Covid-19 in the US was reported on January 21, 2020. On August 10, the country reported 184,346 new confirmed cases. The virus is blamed for more than 618,000 deaths in the US alone, which accounts for the world's highest caseload and deaths since the start of the pandemic.