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Experts Suggest Omicron Poses Greater Risk to Kids, Adolescents than Delta Variant

It is now well established that Omicron is spreading quicker than Delta, although its severity appears to be less.  (Image: Reuters/Representative)

It is now well established that Omicron is spreading quicker than Delta, although its severity appears to be less. (Image: Reuters/Representative)

The death of seven children in Delhi has focused attention on children with co-morbidities becoming infected with the fatal virus.

It is often assumed that children have a superior response to Covid-19 infection; nonetheless, given recent reports that Omicron may become severe in children, it is imperative that all possible safeguards be used to protect them. There is not yet enough evidence to identify how the Omicron variant affects children, but the recent death of seven children in Delhi (between January 9 and 12) has focused attention on children with co-morbidities becoming infected with the fatal virus.

It is now well established that Omicron is spreading quicker than Delta, although its severity appears to be less. However, it would be rash to dismiss this variant as moderate so quickly, especially given the rising number of Covid cases in youngsters. As reported by Hindustan Times, Dr Fazal Nabi, Consultant Paediatrician, Wockhardt Hospital stated, “A large percentage of these children are having milder symptoms; but overall percentage of symptomatic children has increased compared to previous variant of Covid 19.”

Dr. Amit Gupta, Senior Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist at Motherhood Hospital in Noida, believes that because there are no vaccines available, infants are vulnerable to the variant whose severity cannot yet be anticipated. It would be foolish to underestimate Omicron judging by the rate it is spreading. Explaining why Omicron is different in comparison to the previous variants, he said, “In South Africa, the epicentre of the Omicron variant, children seem to have been affected more with increase in number of hospitalisations among kids under 5.”

According to Dr. Yogesh Kumar Gupta, a Paediatrician at Fortis Bannerghatta in Bangalore, while most children have moderate symptoms such as fever, vomiting, and headache, children with co-morbidities are always at danger of developing serious illness. He added, “We need to ensure that our adolescents are vaccinated as this age group has more morbidity and mortality due to Covid than other paediatric age groups and follow Covid’s appropriate behaviour.”

He also advised that the following precautions be taken to safeguard the children: first, be completely vaccinated. Second, reinforce social separation as well as other Covid standards. Finally, speak to them in an age-appropriate manner about the measures they must take.

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first published:January 18, 2022, 10:00 IST