Last fall, after a discouraging summer, the COVID-19 situation in many parts of the globe began to look even worse, especially for children. It had become a standard thought pattern to blame the unvaccinated — whether they were unwilling or simply unable — for the spread of the virus, but the evidence was mounting to show that this was not the entire case.
In the United Kingdom, for instance, it was becoming very clear that vaccinated people could also serve as reservoirs for the Delta variant. This of course added fuel to the anti-vax fire, being cited as “proof” that vaccines don’t work anyway, so why force people to undergo this incursion on their freedom? Meanwhile, Delta gained a reputation for making children more severely ill than previous versions.
The virus cranks it up a notch
In the U.S., older kids were being affected in life-changing ways, even if they avoided catching the actual disease. According to the findings of two surveys, about 20% of high school juniors and seniors said that the virus had impacted their college plans “a great deal.” (Most of the rest admitted to having been influenced a bit.) Rather than leaving for distant four-year institutions, the educationally ambitious were aiming, at least temporarily, for two-year solutions like local community colleges. Scott Jaschik wrote,
Some young people (7 percent) report that they no longer plan to attend college, and 16 percent say they plan to attend college later. Sixty-nine percent of disrupted graduates still believe that additional education would help them get a good job and 63 percent believe they would be successful, but only 45 percent believe the benefits of education would exceed the costs.
As in 2020, the approach of the traditional autumn school year opening was contentious, and meanwhile, the coronavirus introduced its new worst version. Dr. Peter Hotez wrote,
In South Africa, we have seen large numbers of young children become very sick from Omicron. If that happens here, we could see the nightmare scenario: Hospitals having their pediatric beds, adult beds and intensive care units overwhelmed with COVID patients even as the fully vaccinated healthcare staff calls out sick because of Omicron breakthrough infections.
At the same time in the U.S., New York Times reporter Andrew Jacobs wrote that Omicron was producing “a worrisome spike in hospitalizations among children”:
Several states have reported increases of about 50 percent in pediatric admissions for Covid-19 in December. New York City has experienced the most dramatic rise, with 68 children hospitalized last week, a fourfold jump from two weeks earlier. Roughly one in 10 American children has tested positive for the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.
[A]cross the country last week, an average of 1,200 children each day have been hospitalized with the coronavirus. [N]early all the children hospitalized with Covid had one thing in common: They were unvaccinated or undervaccinated.
Still, Jacobs wrote, experts were not too worried because actually, even though more children caught Omicron, it was not making them any sicker than the previous variants had done. That optimistic assessment totally ignored the mounting evidence that long COVID is a very real threat to children. Oh, and have we mentioned that the links between COVID and obesity are very ominous too?
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “High School Students Are Changing College Plans,” InsideHigherEd.com, 06/23/21
Source: “Op-Ed: How can we prevent a second winter of despair with Omicron?,” LATimes.com, 12/17/21
Source: “Omicron Is Not More Severe for Children, Despite Rising Hospitalizations,” NYTimes.com, 02/28/21
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