Unfounded concerns about Omicron hospitalizations in children?

Last night NBC’s network news reported “record numbers” of children in hospitals with COVID-19 since Omicron came to the United States. Physicians from Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, Texas Children’s Hospital, and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland all alluded to sharp increases in children with serious COVID-19 infections.

In contrast, Dr. Fauci recently dismissed this rise as the product of increased documentation from testing in children admitted to hospitals for other reasons. What is really happening?

While it is hard to find data at the CDC website broken down by age, there is a chart in the NYT that seems to argue against a pediatric COVID-19 surge. This graph indicates that childhood hospital admissions for COVID-19 remain low. 

Daily hospital admission rates for COVID-19 broken down by age. Rates of those under 18 are currently 2/100,000 hospitalizations (yellow line) and trail all other age groups.

Currently there are only two children with Covid-19 admitted per 100,000 daily hospitalized individuals under age 18 in the US (yellow line, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

This is lower than any other age group and has not substantially increased during the entire pandemic.

For better granularity I looked at the Michigan state COVID-19 website. As compared to the over 4,200 adults with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in Michigan hospitals, there are only 96 children in the entire state of Michigan hospitalized with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. As Dr. Faucet pointed out, this does not mean they were admitted to the hospital to care for COVID, just that they have been documented to be infected.

While this is not meant to trivialize these sick children, all of the hospitals in the NBC report are referral centers that are most likely to see COVID infected children, especially with other predisposing illnesses. In general, however, the numbers seem to contradict NBC’s story of an “alarming rise” in children’s COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Published by jbakerjrblog

Immunologist, former Army MD, former head of allergy and clinical immunology at University of Michigan, vaccine developer and opinionated guy.

6 thoughts on “Unfounded concerns about Omicron hospitalizations in children?

  1. Thank you Dr Baker for always being the voice of reason. I truly worry about my young Grandchildren who cannot be vaxed at this point. But this article makes me feel a little better.

    Unrelated to this issue – I wonder if you could comment on this article. https://healthpolicy-watch.news/israel-finds-fourth-pfizer-dose-produces-five-fold-increase-in-antibodies-as-country-prepares-to-launch-moderna-fourth-shot-trial/

    Israel just released their study about the 4th dose of the Pfizer vaccine in health care workers who were inoculated with Pfizer in August. Reporting a 5 fold increase in antibodies. “Both trials are being run out of Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer and include around 150 medically personnel who received their third doses by August 2021, with a serology result below 700.”

    I know that antibodies are not the whole story- T and B Cells are also important. Just wondering what you think at this point. Many of my family members (vaxed and boosted) have experienced breakthrough infections. Although “mild” infections that resolved over a few days, some have had lingering fatigue and other potentially long-haul issues. Since we still don’t know whether those who are experiencing break through infections have “long-haul” symptoms, I struggle with 4th shot or not? I just don’t know what to do at this point.

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      1. Dr. Baker thank you for the excellent article – regarding whether we need the 4th dose. You always provide clear guidance and back it up with the details. Thank you for your continued guidance during this time. I do appreciate your efforts!

        Like

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