New York. Children under 5 years of age infected with the Omicron variant have a lower risk of serious health outcomes than those infected with the delta variant. This has come to the fore in a new research. The research findings, published in the journal ‘JAMA Pediatrics’, also showed that the Omicron variant is 6 to 8 times more contagious than Delta.
“Omicron is less severe than Delta, although the reduction in the range of severity in clinical outcomes is only 16 to 85 percent,” said researcher Rong Xu from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio.
“Furthermore, since so many uninfected children were infected, the long-term effects of COVID-19 infection on the brain, heart, immune system and other organs of children remain unknown and worrying,” Xu said.
The research team found that about 1.8 percent of children infected with Omicron were hospitalized, compared to 3.3 percent infected with Delta.
For the study, the team analyzed the electronic health records of more than 651,640 children in the US who had medical examinations with health organizations between 9/2021 and 1/2022, including 22,772 from Omicron at the end of December and the end of January. More than 66,000 children were infected with Delta.
The research team compared the records of more than 10,000 children infected with Delta just before Omicron was detected in the US.
Children under the age of 5 are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. They have a lower rate of previous SARS-CoV-2 infections. The infection also limits the immune system already present in their body.
The team examined the health outcomes of pediatric patients during a 14-day period following SARS-CoV-2 infection. The factors they reviewed were: emergency room visits, hospitalization, ICU admission, and use of mechanical ventilation.
Further demographic data analysis found that children infected with Omicron were on average younger – 1.5 years of age versus 1.7 years – and had fewer other diseases.
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