Delta variant showing grim picture with more children hospitalized, doctors worry wave hasn't peaked
HOUSTON - Pediatricians at Houston's major hospitals are noting changes in COVID-19 among children and adolescents because of the delta variant.
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Dr. Michael Chang with UT Health and Children's Memorial Hermann says previously in the pandemic, COVID-19 account for about 1 percent of pediatric hospitalizations at Children's Memorial Hermann.
"In the last few weeks, we've had times where the percent of children hospitalized with [COVID-19] has been as high as 20 percent," he noted.
Another change he adds is more children are symptomatic now. Prior to the delta variant surge, he says most children were asymptomatic.
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Dr. Chang says while most pediatric hospitalizations still involve teenagers with underlying conditions particularly obesity, more healthy and younger children are becoming sick than before. He also notes concerns about multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).
"What's concerning is even children with previously mild or asymptomatic COVID infection seemingly can develop this multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children," Dr. Chang explained. He says MIS-C generally appears 4 to 6 weeks after a COVID-19 infection.
At Texas Children's Hospital, Dr. James Versalovic, Interim Pediatrician-in-Chief, says they've had upwards of 45 COVID-19 hospitalizations on any given day this month. During the previous peaks, he says they had 30 to 40 patients.
"We have exceeded the prior peaks we had reached during this pandemic in early January," Dr. Versalovic pointed out.
His concern is that delta continues to accelerate, accounting for more than 90 percent of their cases, and we have not reached the peak of this wave yet.
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He notes they are also dealing with a dual wave of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19.
"We are seeing co-infections now. We've seen at least 25 cases of RSV, COVID co-infections, and these unfortunate children, more than half of those cases, have required hospitalization," he told FOX 26.
He says so far all the patients are either unvaccinated teenagers or younger children who aren't eligible for the vaccine yet. Additionally, the hospital also expects to see an increase in MIS-C in children due to prior COVID-19 infections.
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He says since the start of the pandemic they've treated 170 cases of MIS-C and worries with delta it will get worse.
"We are beginning to see several cases. It is early, too early, to tell what the impact will be but we are bracing for that," Dr. Versalovic emphasized.