The COVID 'truce' with young people and children comes to an end ... now it sends them to the hospital. Photo: (El Financiero)

The new variants of COVID-19 are more contagious and affect young people more than the original virus that emerged more than a year ago.

USA (April 20, 2021).- The pediatrician told Melissa Zajacz of Medina, Ohio, that her 13-year-old son, Spencer, would return to school two weeks after being diagnosed with Covid-19. Then came more visits to the doctor, a fever over 40 degrees, and two visits to the Cleveland Clinic emergency room.

Spencer’s case, which involves B.1.1.7. This variant has kept him mostly bedridden and suffering from headaches and swollen ankles since March 17. “There is no cure, so they offer supportive care,” said Melissa Zajacz. “ He hasn’t been to school in a month. He is a healthy, athletic, and active child. “

Throughout previous waves of COVID, children and young adults avoided the most serious consequences of the pandemic, showing little or no symptoms. Now the faster-spreading variants are sending them more to the hospital. Deaths remain low, but doctors say the virus is now making young people sicker, some seriously.

The warnings are beginning to multiply. University of Alabama students mourn the death of the unofficial basketball team mascot, Luke Ratliff, a 23-year-old campus member. The student known affectionately as Fluffopotamus died from complications from COVID-19 earlier this month when the team was participating in an NCAA tournament.

In Michigan, where COVID-19 is spreading at one of the fastest rates on the planet, an average of nearly 8,000 new cases a day, hospitals are treating many more young people. The state Department of Health and Human Services reported 50 pediatric hospital cases Thursday, the most since the post-holiday spike in early January.

“Across the state, hospitalization rates are getting higher,” said Rudolph Valentini, medical director at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. “We see more children coming to the ER across the state. Some are in the ICU and others require mechanical ventilation. “

The new variants of COVID-19 are more contagious and affect young people more than the original virus that emerged more than a year ago when people under the age of 30 often showed no symptoms.

“We’re seeing 20, 25, 35 patients who are pretty sick with Covid,” said Robert Riney, director of operations for the Henry Ford Health System, in a briefing on April 8. “The good news is that mortality rates are lower, but these are not mild cases.”

The same trend is emerging when young people, who are often not yet vaccinated, transmit and contract the virus through school sports and social gatherings. Most states have focused vaccination efforts on residents 65 and older because they are the most vulnerable.

Doctors say the virus is now making young people sicker, some seriously.

‘Very different’

Illinois state-backed mass vaccination sites are opening appointments for college students because young people are driving their recent surge. The state’s highest case count in April has been between 20-somethings, after cases in the 18-24 age group doubled over the past month, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

At a news conference last week, Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said the city “is seeing more of the increase in hospitalizations among people under 50, very different from what we have seen before.”

About 62 percent of Chicagoans 65 and older have received at least one dose and 47 percent are fully vaccinated, which is helping improve hospitalization rates in that age group. When everyone over the age of 18 is included, approximately 46 percent of residents have received the first dose.

In New Jersey, 48 percent of new hospitalizations are patients 60 and younger, “a departure from previous experience,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli at a recent informational conference on the virus. A week ago, 11 percent of new hospitalizations were between 30 and 39 years old, 10 percent between 40 and 49, and 21 percent between 50 and 59 years old.

Hospitals full

Colorado Governor Jared Polis said this month that cases among residents over 50 are stabilizing, which he attributed to a strong involvement in vaccines. He said that the largest increase in cases is among adults under middle age.

“People are filling hospitals in the 18-50 age group,” he said. “This is a race against time.”

Polis said the new variants are increasing the likelihood of serious reactions. Most of the younger infected people will survive but are more likely to end up in hospital, he said, imploring residents to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing as the vaccination campaign nears its goal.

“Let’s be careful in the last few weeks,” Polis said. “We are almost back to normal. It is almost mid to late May that anyone who wants a vaccine can get it. Let’s not have a setback. “

The next problem may be cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, in which several organs become inflamed. MIS-C, as it is called, afflicts some COVID survivors with persistent symptoms such as high heart rates, body aches, and fatigue.

Although the syndrome is rare (Michigan has about 100 cases), hospitals are likely to see more after the variant-driven surge, because it is behind COVID for two to five weeks, said Valentini of Children’s Hospital in Detroit.

Katie Krol of Shelby Township, Michigan, said her two children have been struggling with MIS-C. Her daughter, Emma, ​​now 10, and her 14-year-old son, Rhys, saw their conditions worsen about two months after initially contracting COVID in March 2020. Their heart rates sometimes skyrocket above 140. Both often they are exhausted and have circulatory problems.

“Rhys’s hands and feet will turn purple,” Krol said in an interview. “You can trace his veins. They are darker. If Rhys is awake for more than 15 minutes, he says his feet feel swollen. “

Doctors have found no cure.

“They don’t know,” Krol said. “They say that in six months or in 12 months they will be better. There is no answer for this. I wish it was something where there was an answer and we could just get treatment. “

Valentini said hospital officials are encouraged by the fact that Pfizer’s vaccine is showing good results among children ages 12 to 15. But the drugmaker is waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to approve its use for that age group. Moderna in February began a study for patients as young as 12 years old.

Until children can get the vaccine, they will be susceptible. “Corona is looking for a place to land,” Valentini said. “The most vulnerable patients are children because they have not been vaccinated.”

Zajacz, the Cleveland mother, said a medical scan on Thursday revealed that Spencer’s spleen is enlarged, and she plans to try to get him admitted to a special clinic for patients with long-standing Covid symptoms.

“We don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel with this,” he said. “The answer they all have is that we have to let it run its course.”

Source: El Financiero