Monday, 10 May, 2021

New COVID-19 variant infecting more children


By Asha Shah, Kathmandu, May 5: As compared to the first wave of coronavirus infections the second wave has left more people infected. Children below the age of 18 have been infected in this second wave of the virus.

According to the director of Ishan Children and Women’s hospital Dr. RP Chaudhary, children have been infected by the virus more in the second wave as compared to the first wave. The rate of infections in the second wave has increased drastically as compared to the first wave.

She also mentioned that in Nepal in the last wave of the pandemic children composed only 10 per cent of the total infected patients.

“In the last wave of the pandemic children composed less percentage of the patients either dead or in a critical condition caused by the virus. However in the second wave more children are either dying or being infected by the virus as compared to the first wave,” she said to the TRN Online.

“The new variant of the virus is more easily contagious. The symptoms of this new variant are seen very early and children have been heavily affected by this new variant,” Dr. Chaudhary said.

Dr. RP was curious to know the state of the infected children so she reached to parents of such children to learn about their age and immunity. She came to the conclusion that even if other members of the family are infected children will more be affected by the virus.

“When two children had come to Ishan Children and Women’s hospital for their scheduled operation, a PCR test was conducted and they tested positive for the virus even though they had no symptoms,” she said.

She further mentioned that a few days ago a child with diarrhea had come to the hospital and when his PCR test was conducted the child tested positive for the virus.

‘She also says that there is a lack of hospitals for infected children. In Nepal, there are no dedicated COVID hospitals for children. Due to this reason, infected children could be left out from being treated.

“Even babies who are only 5 or six months of age have been tested positive. Currently, there are no hospitals to treat such children” DR. Chaudhary said. “Kanti Children’s Hospital is also government-run but they do not admit children who are infected by the virus. The government should do something about this” she said.

In the previous times when vaccination drives were around, it did not target children below the age of 18. She said that even children need to be vaccinated. She also mentioned that she had heard that the Chinese vaccine is not be administered to people over the age of 60.

However, health expert DR. Samir Mani Dixit has given two as to why vaccines are not being administered to children below the age of 18. According to him, the first reason was that children below the age of 18 were not heavily impacted by the virus. The second reason is that clinical trials have not been conducted on children below the age of 18.

According to the health ministry from 14 March to 29 April, the number of infected children from the age 10 to 19 stood at 3,292 cases and two children died as a result. DR. Dixit was asked that given the data even children required vaccines to which he replied everyone irrespective of their age required vaccines and it is good to vaccinate.

“However the pandemic has not affected everyone equally and that vaccine doesn’t protect all age groups in the same way,” he said to the TRN Online.

He also mentioned that scientists give priority to the ones who are likely to die by the disease and children below the age of 18 are not on the priority list. With that, he also made it clear that all age groups can be equally infected by the virus.

“The symptoms of the virus are the same for people of all ages, however even then it has to be taken into account who will be affected by the virus and who will more likely die by it,” he said.

“The death of two children from 3,000 infected is little, however, if this were people above the age of 60 more than two people would have died. It is due to this reason that people above the age of 60 are given more priority,” DR. Dixit said.

According to him, people who are highly vulnerable have been given more priority which includes people above the age of 65. This is to be followed by decreasing the age criteria to 55, 45, etc. In the end, it has been speculated that children below the age of 18 will be vaccinated as well. Children below the age of 18 are equally susceptible to the virus, but the symptoms caused to the children have mostly been comparatively mild.