In the absence of an approved Covid vaccine for children, medical experts are concerned about the ongoing spread of the Delta variant in young people in the New South Wales and Victorian outbreaks.
Forty-five per cent of all active Covid cases in Melbourne are in children and teenagers.
In NSW, más que 2,700 casos have been in people aged 19 and under, accounting for 30% of infections. Of the 633 cases announced on Wednesday, 63 were in kids aged nine and under, y 104 in people aged 10 a 19.
Across Australia, since the beginning of the pandemic there have been more than 2,800 Covid cases in children under 10.
Victoria’s Covid response commander, Jeroen Weimar, said on Wednesday that of the state’s 246 active cases, 56 were children aged nine and younger and 55 were aged between 10 y 19. None of these were currently in hospital.
The figures were partly reflective of outbreaks in schools, Weimar said. But he noted there were also at least two identified instances of transmission between children that occurred outdoors.
“We have a large number of children in this outbreak … all examples of where children have transmitted both within their households and [groups of children] themselves," él dijo.
Overseas, the numbers of new Covid cases in children and young adults has risen in many countries as a result of the Delta variant.
Prof Fiona Russell, the director of child and adolescent health at the University of Melbourne, said the rise was attributable to the Delta variant’s increased infectiousness across all age groups, with children comprising a large part of the unvaccinated population.
“Because they’re not vaccinated, some of them end up in the hospital as well – but it’s very uncommon,” Russell said.
A UK study found that less than 1% of Covid-related hospitalisations were in young people under 19. Statistics from the American Academy of Pediatrics indicate less than 1% of children who are infected with Covid are hospitalised as a result – a lower risk than for all other age groups – while one in 1,000 children who are infected with Covid die from it.
But Dr Andrew Miller, former president of the Australian Medical Association in Western Australia, said overseas data showed children were vulnerable to the lasting symptoms of long Covid, in many cases interfering with learning or daily activities.
“Parents would be right to be very concerned, particularly in the context that we don’t yet have a vaccine for all 12 a 16 años de edad [in Australia], only the vulnerable ones,” Miller said. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommends the use of Pfizer for vulnerable people in that age group.
“We don’t have a vaccine and we’re not going to have a vaccine for under 12s for quite some time,” Russell said. “We need more information before that decision can be made.” Clinical trials of mRNA vaccines in children are currently under way overseas.