Omicron variant of COVID-19 puts more children in U.K. hospitals than Delta

In B.C., the age breakdown of hospitalizations appears in the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's weekly reports, which last covered the period ending January 8

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      A high-profile U.S. epidemiologist and health economist is raising concerns about rising hospital admissions of kids due to COVID-19 in some jurisdictions.

      Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, a senior fellow with the Federation of American Scientists, has tweeted data showing that there are more children in British hospitals with the disease in comparison to previous waves.

      The former Harvard Medical School researcher and faculty member noted that it's not just in the U.K., either. He said it's happening in other parts of the world, including Utah, where more kids are going to hospital as a result of COVID-19.

      "Moreover, new data from South Africa on case-hospitalization rate in kids 0-4 is quite concerning," Feigl-Deng noted on his Twitter feed, which has more than 685,000 followers.

      A statistics professor at the University of Glasgow, Surajit Ray, backed up Feigl-Ding's assertion about the U.K.

      Ray noted on his Twitter feed that there are more kids in English and Scottish hospitals with the Omicron variant compared to children hospitalized with the Delta variant.

      The Omicron variant spread in the U.K. before the case counts started rising sharply in B.C.

      Protect Our Province B.C. moderator Dr. Brenda Hardie spoke to University of Toronto health researcher Colin Furness on January 6 about child hospitalizations.

      Age data in BCCDC COVID-19 Situation Report

      The B.C. government doesn't provide real-time updates on the age range of people hospitalized due to COVID-19.

      On January 6, University of Toronto health-care researcher Colin Furness suggested that the arrival of the Omicron variant could result in 800 B.C. children and youths being admitted to hospitals within a month.

      In a livestream hosted by a group called Protect Our Province B.C., Furness based this "back-of-the-envelope" forecast on the sharp rise in under-18 people being hospitalized in the U.S. in December.

      People are hospitalized when they experience severe symptoms of COVID-19.

      Furness pointed out that the risk of severe COVID-19 is 7.8 times higher for infants less than three months old, whereas it's 6.6 times higher for kids with diabetes, 3.7 times higher for those born prematurely, 3.5 percent for those with a compromised immune system, and 2.2 times higher for those with asthma.

      The latest B.C. data for age-related hospitalizations is for the week ending on January 8.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 Situation Report showed that by the end of that week, there had been 198 people hospitalized with COVID-19 under the age of 10 from the start of the pandemic.

      That marked an increase of 18 children from the reported 180 who had been hospitalized under the age of 10 from the start of the pandemic in the previous week's report.

      The top chart shows hospitalizations and ICU cases in those under the age of 10 from the start of the pandemic until the first week of 2022.  The second chart is from a week earlier.
      B.C. Centre for Disease Control

      Also in the under 10 age group, there were 18 who had been in the intensive-care unit by January 8, according to the chart above, dating back to the start of the pandemic. That was up from 16 in the previous week.

      The number of deaths in this age group had not changed from the final week of 2021 to the first week of 2022, remaining at two.

      Nobody has died from COVID-19 in the 10 to 19 age group from the start of the pandemic, according to the most recent report.

      In the first week of the year, it appears from the chart that nine people from 10 to 19 were hospitalized and one was sent to the intensive-care unit due to COVID-19.

      The text in the most recent COVID-19 Situation Report did not mention the rising number of cases of children and youths, specifically.

      Instead, it focused on the incidence rate in younger adults, among many other observations.

      "Age-specific incidences increased across all age groups from week 49 to week 1," the report states. "Between week 49 and week 1, incidence rates increased the most in 20-29 year-olds (from 70 to 417 per 100K), 30-39 year-olds (from 72 to 346 per 100K), and 40-49 year-olds (72 to 332 per 100K)."

      At her January 21 media briefing, B.C.'s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, went out of her way to emphasize that the Omicron variant should not be considered "innocuous".

      Meanwhile, Feigl-Ding is trying to raise the alarm over dangers posed by asymptomatic people carring the virus.

      "Lions and pumas at a zoo in the South African capital of Pretoria got 'severe' COVID-19 crom asymptomatic zoo handlers," he tweeted. "This is why ignoring asymptomatic cases (40%-50% of all COVID transmission) is dangerous."