Omicron sending more young children to hospital says South Africa official

Symptoms from omicron, Covid's new variant, seem to be mild so far, according to scientists studying the outbreak in South Africa. But this might not be the case for young children, who are being hospitalized in one South African town for Covid five times more now than they were in May. (Note: most if not all of these children are unvaccinated.)

In a recent press conference, government adviser Waasila Jassat said that in May of this year, less than 20 children in South Africa's city of Tshwane Metro were hospitalized for Covid, according to Daily Beast. But last month, from November 14–27 — in just a two-week window — the city saw more than 100 children hospitalized for Covid.

"The incidence in those under 5 is now second highest, second only to those over 60. The trend that we're seeing now, that is different to what we've seen before, is a particular increase in hospital admissions in children under 5 years," she said.

According to Daily Beast:

Jassat produced graphs that clearly showed how children under 5 years old are now being hospitalized at an alarming rate. …

In a follow-up question-and-answer session, asked about the extraordinary numbers of children being admitted to hospital, Jassat said she suspected there might be an "immunity gap" and that the lack of vaccination of children might account for the numbers.

She said that with adults increasingly vaccinated, children are the ones who are "getting sick and need to be admitted."

She added that pediatricians at the Tshwane hospital had told them, anecdotally, that "all" of the children ages 12-18 who were admitted were not vaccinated, even though they were eligible. "And the younger children, younger than 12, who were not eligible for vaccination, none of their parents, except for three, were vaccinated."

She said this showed "the value of vaccination in the adult protecting the children in the homes."