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14 Jan, 2022 17:19

Spike in proportion of UK babies in hospital with Omicron

Researchers urge calm despite noting the rise in infants infected with Covid’s most contagious variant
Spike in proportion of UK babies in hospital with Omicron

Data published on Friday by the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has warned the percentage of children aged under one in hospital with Covid has risen from 30% to 42% following the outbreak of the Omicron strain.

A study by the Coronavirus Clinical Characterisation Consortium and Covid-19 Clinical Information Network found that, compared with previous waves of the pandemic, there has been a recent sharp rise in the proportion of infants requiring hospital treatment.

One reason proposed is that older children have become eligible and are beginning to be vaccinated, while babies are still ineligible for the jab. However, that was deemed unlikely as there has also been a rise in hospitalizations among the older cohort. Another explanation put forward by the researchers is that younger children have smaller upper airways and Omicron is therefore affecting them more gravely.

Despite the increase in cases, Calum Semple, a professor in child health and outbreak medicine at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, has urged the public to remain calm, as infants are typically experiencing only very mild symptoms.

“I really want to emphasise here the fact that these are not particularly sick infants. In fact, they’re coming in for short periodst of time for investigations,” Semple told UK media.

Dr. Camilla Kingdon, the president of the UK’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, confirmed this view, stating that medical professionals are not “picking up any signals that are overly concerning.”

Most infants are believed to simply be suffering from a fever and a cough after being infected with Covid, she added.