Does delta cause more severe infections in kids? Science is still out, experts say

Mackenzie Bean - Print  | 

While many physicians are reporting an uptick in children requiring hospitalization for COVID-19, researchers say it's still unclear whether the delta variant is causing more severe infections, NBC News reported Sept. 16. 

Four takeaways:

1. Children represented 28.9 percent of all COVID-19 cases reported nationwide in the week ending Sept. 9, up from 26.8 percent the week prior, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. Overall, more than 5.2 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic, marking a 10 percent increase over the last two weeks. 

2. As the U.S. is still only two months into the delta surge, there is still not enough evidence to confirm whether the variant causes more severe infections in children and teens, according to the CDC, pediatric specialists and clinical investigators researching the virus.

3. However, experts are looking at "red flags that could indicate greater disease severity in specific segments of the pediatric population," Jim Versalovic, MD, PhD, interim pediatrician-in-chief at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, told NBC News. 

4. Dr. Versalovic said he's hopeful there will be more clarity about this topic by the end of the year, once more data is studied across regions, age groups, underlying medical conditions and long-term outcomes. Other experts are more skeptical. 

"We still don’t really have that question answered for adult disease, where there are at least far more hospitalizations than there are in kids, so I think it's going to be a hard question to answer," Sean O'Leary, MD, vice chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on infectious diseases, told NBC News.

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