Increasing number of children becoming infected with UK variant; doctor explains

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The U.K. COVID-19 variant is sweeping the Midwest as more and more people are getting infected with the mutation, particularly children. 

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Health officials are saying the infection rate in kids is outpacing the infection rate in adults. Dr. Amy Beth Kressel, infectious disease specialist at Eskenazi Health, says it’s because the vaccines are working. 

“We’ve protected older people,” Kressel told News 8. “But we have no vaccines for kids. So, if we didn’t have the vaccine, we would probably not be seeing this shift. Or, we would see the kids getting sick and the older people would be getting sick at the same time. Now, it’s very evident that the vaccines are effective. But the children are not protected yet.”

Kressel says the U.K. variant is taking over the U.S. It accounts for nearly a quarter of all cases in Indiana. According to one research report, the rate of transmission is between 40% to 90% faster than the original strain. However, according to a study published in “The Lancet,” it is not said to impact the severity of COVID-19. 

But the evidence to support whether it is more infectious in children, Kressel says, is still being worked out. Children typically don’t get as sick, but there are certainly exceptions. 

“Even though children in general are less likely to die, they are not immune [to the coronavirus] and they can still get very sick. This is not the time to stop worrying about children. Children should be wearing their masks and socially distancing.”

Out of the 53,015 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Indiana to date, 857 of them were children. This amounts to just 1.6% of cases.