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Is the delta variant worse for kids? Experts are suggesting it might be

Experts suggest the delta variant of the coronavirus might be worse for children

A student wears a face mask amid COVID-19 surge.
A student wears a face mask while doing work at his desk at the Post Road Elementary School, in White Plains, N.Y., on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Health officials across the United States have expressed concern about how children are experiencing delta variant symptoms and respiratory syncytial virus, a respiratory illness more commonly seen in winter, according to The New York Times.
Mary Altaffer, Associated Press

Health officials across the United States have expressed concern about how children are experiencing delta variant symptoms and respiratory syncytial virus, a respiratory illness more commonly seen in winter, according to The New York Times.

  • And it appears the delta variant symptoms might be more dangerous for children compared to previous mutations of the coronavirus.

Does the delta variant hurt children? Is it more severe?

Kent Sepkowitz, a physician and infection control expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, wrote for CNN that the biggest issue with the delta variant is how it impacts children.

  • He said there is new evidence that “children infected by the delta variant may develop a more severe form of the disease compared to illness caused by other forms of the virus.”
  • Reasons for this include “higher viral loads, something different about how the virus is handled by less mature immune systems, or something else,” he wrote.

Sepkowitz isn’t the only expert to suggest this idea. Dr. Rick Barr, one of the leaders at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, told NPR that the delta variant has a different impact on children than other viruses.

  • “Delta variant is acting very, very differently with respect to kids ... just in the month of July, we have (admitted) over 40 to the children’s hospital ... and a number of those have ended up in the intensive care unit,” he told NPR.

Should parents worry about the delta variant?

Parents have also started facing questions about their children who will be returning to school in the fall, especially since children younger than 12 years old have not been vaccinated yet, according to The Los Angeles Times.

  • “Parents should be making sure that they’re doing everything they can to keep their kids safe when they have an unvaccinated child in their family,” Dr. Katherine Williamson, a pediatrician in Orange County, told The Los Angeles Times.

But, Williamson said, young people can stay protected if the right guidelines for schools are in place and if there are vaccination opportunities available.