More babies are arriving in England hospitals with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Experts have warned that available data from December show that children under the age of one may experience severe symptoms.
Too Soon To Worry?
Some experts have also cautioned that it would be premature to raise an alarm over the data, as more children may be hospitalized as medics become increasingly cautious.
According to the NHS data between December 14 and January 12, 42% of Covid patients under 18 who were admitted to hospitals were below 12 months old. This is an increase from 31% during the pandemic up to December.
However, only a few babies needed emergency treatment such as oxygen, with many more having fever and or a cough.
Prof Calum Semple, who advises the Government as part of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, Sage, said:
Our study has shown that there has been an increased proportion of children being admitted in the last four weeks associated with the onset of Omicron and this has been particularly driven by children under the age of one. The striking feature is that we're now seeing essentially 42% of the children are under the age of one, whereas previously it was around about 30%.
Not That Alarming
Prof Russell Viner, of University College London and Sage member, said the figures are not as alarming as they seem. He explained that Omicron may cause cold-like symptoms in more babies than in previous variants.
It may be that this variant is more likely to cause a little bit of fever or some upper respiratory cold like symptoms in younger children than previous variants, which have largely been asymptomatic or had no symptoms.
He also added that NHS’ strategy to dealing with the virus means more children are being hospitalized as a precaution.
The way we protect children through the NHS with our decision making algorithms will potentially push more children to hospital. And I think we’re seeing some elements of that.