Children and COVID: Decline in new cases reaches 7th week


New cases of COVID-19 in U.S. children have fallen to their lowest level since the beginning of the Delta surge in July of 2021, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

Just under 42,000 new cases were reported during the week of March 4-10, making it the 7th consecutive week of declines since the peak of the Omicron surge in January. Over those 7 weeks, new cases dropped over 96% from the 1.15 million reported for Jan. 14-20, based on data collected by the AAP and CHA from state and territorial health departments.

The last time that the weekly count was below 42,000 was July 16-22, 2021, when almost 39,000 cases were reported in the midst of the Delta upsurge. That was shortly after cases had reached their lowest point, 8,447, since the early stages of the pandemic in 2020, the AAP/CHA data show.

Number of weekly COVID-19 cases reported in children, United States

The cumulative number of pediatric cases is now up to 12.7 million, while the overall proportion of cases occurring in children held steady at 19.0% for the 4th week in a row, the AAP and CHA said in their weekly COVID-19 report. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using an age range of 0-18 versus the states’ variety of ages, puts total cases at 11.7 million and deaths at 1,656 as of March 14.

Data from the CDC’s COVID-19–Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network show that hospitalizations with laboratory-confirmed infection were down by 50% in children aged 0-4 years, by 63% among 5- to 11-year-olds, and by 58% in those aged 12-17 years for the week of Feb. 27 to March 5, compared with the week before.

The pace of vaccination continues to follow a similar trend, as the declines seen through February have continued into March. Cumulatively, 33.7% of children aged 5-11 have received at least one dose, and 26.8% are fully vaccinated, with corresponding numbers of 68.0% and 58.0% for children aged 12-17, the CDC reported on its COVID Data Tracker.

State-level data show that children aged 5-11 in Vermont, with a rate of 65%, are the most likely to have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine, while just 15% of 5- to 11-year-olds in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi have gotten their first dose. Among children aged 12-17, that rate ranges from 40% in Wyoming to 94% in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, the AAP said in a separate report based on CDC data.

In a recent report involving 1,364 children aged 5-15 years, two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine reduced the risk of infection from the Omicron variant by 31% in children aged 5-11 years and by 59% among children aged 12-15 years, said Ashley L. Fowlkes, ScD, of the CDC’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Team, and associates (MMWR 2022 Mar 11;71).

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