Not so long ago, it seemed the data on COVID-19 held a degree of comfort when it came to children: not too many of them got infected, fewer still got sick and almost none were hospitalized. As for schools, they were not believed to be super spreaders of the virus, for either adults or students.

And then came the Delta variant.

Amid the uncertainty and high tensions, and with misinformation about the virus still rampant, The 74 spoke directly to health experts for clarity on how to understand the virus in this critical stage and tips on how to safely navigate the back-to-school season.

Here’s what they had to say:

  1. We’ve seen a surge in pediatric coronavirus cases. Should we abandon the prior wisdom that kids rarely catch COVID, and when they do, it’s not too serious?

    Not exactly.

    “[The Delta variant] is more infectious, but it’s not a whole new game,” explained Benjamin Linas, professor of medicine at Boston University.

    The variant’s high transmissibility has pushed up case counts, including among children, he told The 74. But serious illness among young people remains “vanishingly rare,” he said — citing a case fatality rate of .00003 for those under 20.

  2. Does the Delta variant make kids sicker than previous strains?

    There is no conclusive evidence that it does, according to the experts.

    “The jury’s still out,” said Deeter.

    Studies from Canada and Scotland have found that patients infected with the Delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than those infected with previous mutations of the virus.

    And while those papers don’t examine virulence specifically among young people, Wurtz believes it could still be “reasonable to extrapolate that to kids.”

Read the full article about the risks of COVID-19 for kids by Asher Lehrer at The 74.