Pediatric COVID-19 Infections Put In Context

Children accounted for 2% of new COVID-19 infections a year ago. Now, they account for more than 24% of new weekly cases. Still, the number of pediatric COVID cases is going down

NBC Universal, Inc.

The percentage of children getting infected with COVID-19 is going up compared to a year ago, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. That may sound alarming when you look only at the percentages, but if you put the numbers in context it is not necessarily bad news.

Children accounted for 2% of new COVID-19 infections a year ago. Now, they account for more than 24% of new weekly cases.

Children represent a bigger percentage of new cases, but overall, there aren't as many new cases because a large percentage of the population is getting vaccinated.

“The number of actual cases of children is not going up dramatically,” said Doctor Stephen Spector, a distinguished professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at UC San Diego. “I think what this is really telling us is how effective the vaccines are.” 

There are concerns the vaccine may have caused inflammation of the heart muscle in young adults who had the vaccine. Even before COVID, doctors said teenage males and males in their twenties were more like to have myocarditis.

“The expectation would be that in these younger children who have not been identified as being in this risk group for myocarditis and pericarditis, that the risk to these children will be significantly less than it is in the older group of teenagers and young adults," he said.

Doctor Spector said the percentage of pediatric COVID-19 infections shows the importance of getting a safe vaccine to children under the age of 12. 

“I think the really important message here is that we need to be able to do the studies as quickly and again, as safely, as possible so that we can begin to immunize those younger children who we’re seeing now getting infected with COVID-19," he said.

Doctor Spector is working with UCSD and Rady Children’s hospital on clinical trials using the Moderna vaccine for children under 12 years old. He said it is possible a vaccine for those 6 years to 11 could get emergency use authorization by the fall.

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