Children and young adults accounted for a bigger percentage of Covid-19 cases and early-wave hospitalizations than those in older age groups. This, however, "does not always indicate more serious illness in youngsters." This is according to Mary-Ann Davies, head of the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Although medical professionals believe it is too early to determine if the prevalent Omicron version will cause moderate or severe symptoms, there are worries that a larger number of youngsters are being hospitalized. "At this point, the majority of children admitted have been 10- to 19-year-olds, rather than younger children, but Gauteng has witnessed an uptick in younger kid admissions," Davies said.
Children and adolescents often account for the majority of escalating infections and admissions at the start of waves, she added, since "spread occurs early among individuals with the largest number of contacts." According to Waasila Jassat, a public health expert at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a similar pattern occurred during the Delta-driven third wave.
Davies said that youngsters are also more likely to be hospitalized with influenza and "with more influenza at the present... they may also have Covid-19 detected as part of regular testing." Patients of any age admitted to hospital for reasons unrelated to the virus may find they have Covid-19 during the admissions process.
"Of course, vaccination coverage, particularly among older people, has increased significantly in recent years, and adults would benefit from enhanced protection (in comparison to children) against severe illness and hospitalization," Davies said. Ntsakisi Maluleke, a public health expert in Gauteng, told Reuters over the weekend that hospital professionals may be admitting minors "for the sake of safety." "We take solace in physicians' findings that the youngsters have just slight illness," she said.
To determine the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccinations in avoiding severe sickness and mortality from the newest strain, Prof Penny Moore and her colleagues at the NICD are creating a pseudo-virus containing Omicron mutations."We're taking three distinct tactics concurrently and use tag teams to ensure no delays," she said. "Several of the mutations are descendants of ancient adversaries. Some of them we've seen previously in other concerns, but a good deal of them we haven't.
"While Omicron contains an exceptionally high number of mutations, we do not yet have laboratory evidence to determine how these changes would influence immune recognition," Moore said.
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