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With the rush of Omicron, parents of young children endure an agonizing wait


“I’ve actually gotten a lot of calls from families who are really desperate at the end,” says Yvonne Maldonado, MD, a pediatrician and professor of epidemiology and population health at Stanford University School of Medicine, and Pfizer’s principal investigator. There is a vaccine trial. “I don’t have great answers. It’s frustrating and scary.”

She notes that it is comforting that so far Omicron appears to produce mild symptoms in many children – although whether the variant is truly mild in all individuals or is only weakened in population-wide studies by more widespread immunity remains to be determined. solve it. “The chance of a baby being hospitalized is much less than 1 percent,” Maldonado says. “But nonetheless, it’s not zero. In our workplace, we’ve seen a lot of kids come into the hospital with respiratory failure or at least in respiratory distress where they need oxygen. That can be really distressing for families. And we don’t know what are the long-term consequences of Covid infection for adults or children.”

The high number of children’s cases has also made it more difficult to manage the return to school for the spring term. “Our school district set a scale of 5 percent positivity, and in one day nearly all schools reached that scale,” says Kawthar Rasmi Talat, MD, associate professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, leading the Pfizer vaccine trial for children. Are 12 years old or younger. “Just because of the sheer numbers of people with Omicron are we seeing a massive increase in the number of children who are also affected and hospitalized.”

Nationally, the school picture is chaotic. In the week of January 2, 5,409 US schools switched to remote learning in at least one day, according to the Burbio Tracker, which aggregates more than 80,000 K-12 calendars. Schools in Atlanta and five Georgia counties returned to classes Monday after a delayed start of the year, while schools in the Twin Cities and suburbs moved away to protect students. In New York City on Tuesday, students staged a citywide strike to protest social distancing and distancing options, and in Chicago, the teachers’ union agreed to end a five-day strike over safety concerns. In Northern Virginia, parents reported Receive pleas To stand as a substitute, and in Michigan, a teacher chirp About the lost schools Entire grade levels from Staff.

Parents constantly think about risks, whether it’s introducing their kids to solid food, letting them climb a ladder, or deciding whether to send them to school during bad flu season. But thinking about the risks of Covid presents a unique challenge, because official advice appears to be changing frequently — and because, in addition to a vaccine, new treatments like antiviral pills and monoclonal antibodies aren’t yet available for younger children.

“Colds, flu, and RSV are well-known entities,” says Jennifer Shaw, MD, a pediatrician in Atlanta at the private clinic and medical editor of the parent advice website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. We have some treatments, including approved antivirals for the flu. Whereas for Covid, although there are many drugs, many of them have not been approved under the age of 12. So it’s not even an option for kids.”

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