These People Are Now Major COVID Spreaders, Virus Expert Says
A more infectious COVID-19 variant is now being easily spread by a group that had been relatively unaffected by the pandemic—children, said epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, on Sunday.
"Kids, particularly those eighth-grade and younger, were not really much part of the pandemic that we saw in the past 10 months," said Osterholm in an interview with Fox News Sunday. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.
Kids Are Very Effective at Transmitting the Virus
"Very few cases, in terms of transmission. They did not serve as important sources of the virus to the rest of the community. That has completely turned on its head with B.1.1.7. There are now kids getting infected at the same rate that adults do. They're very effective at transmitting the virus."
Osterholm noted that in Minnesota in the last two weeks, 749 schools had reported COVID cases. "Anywhere you look where you see this emerging, you see that kids are playing a huge role in the transmission of this," he said. "All the things that we had planned for about kids in schools with this virus are really no longer applicable. We've got to take a whole new look at this issue."
School Reopenings, Sports Driving Cases in Young
Last week in neighboring Michigan, the state's Department of Health and Human Services said that new COVID-19 cases in children younger than 10 rose by 230%, higher than any other age group. Children and young adults aged 10 to 19 saw a 227% rise in cases. "Much of the rise in pediatric cases can be linked to the reopening of schools and youth sports," CBS News reported.
Osterholm said that B.1.1.7 is 50 to 100 percent more transmissible than previous strains of the coronavirus and causes 50 to 60 percent more severe illness. "The only good news about this," he noted, "is that the current vaccines are effective against this particular variant."
COVID tends to cause only mild illness in children, but those with underlying health conditions are at greater risk for severe illness. And as Osterholm noted, children can spread the disease to older adults who are more susceptible to complications.
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.