On the cusp of flu season, concerns mount that Delta variant poses unique dangers for children

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Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP
Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP

The number of very sick children admitted to Children’s Hospital New Orleans with Covid-19 has exploded over the past two weeks — from zero to 20. 

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dr. Mark Kline, the hospital’s physician-in-chief. “We are seeing children fall ill that we just simply didn’t see in the first year of the pandemic, before the delta variant came along.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to determine whether the delta variant can, in fact, cause more severe disease in children, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, said.

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“Over the course of the first year of this pandemic, the myth existed that children never got very ill from Covid,” Kline said. That was mainly because the number of pediatric cases was relatively low.

Because the delta variant is so contagious, he said, the increase in cases clearly shows the virus’s potential, even in young, otherwise healthy children.

“This delta variant is an infectious disease specialist’s worst nightmare,” Kline said.

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