Omicron Mild, Does Affect Children, Say AIIMS Experts

COVID, COVID19, Omicron, Kids, Children
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As India reports COVID-19 infection in children like other countries, considering the importance of the topic, an interactive webinar session on ‘Managing Children with Covid-19’ is being organised by the Union Health Ministry in collaboration with All India institute of medical sciences (AIIMS) Delhi, with regional and state centre of excellence and Indian Medical Association on Thursday.

AIIMS, New Delhi, Director Dr Randeep Guleria said, “It is important for us to understand that children are not like adults and we cannot translate what we are doing in adults to children. They need to be treated separately and that is why this webinar that we are having today is very, very important.” “There is also been a lot of concern about the severity of illness in children in this current wave with some reports from hospitals in the US claiming that they are seeing an increased number of children being admitted. So I think it is important to clarify, how is the current Omicron behaving as far as children are concerned? The concern has always been there as the younger children are not vaccinated and they are really getting more severe diseases. What is the management for children who are having COVID 19, what can we give, what should we not give and how should we treat these children depending on their age group and their presentation?”

The purpose of the webinar was to re-emphasise all the important information and management of paediatric COVID.

“Omicron does affect the children but it is a mild disease. So we also need to keep in mind that the fear and the panic which is getting created among the families, we must be able to curtail it,” said Dr Prof Ashok Deorari, AIIMS, Delhi.

Dr Rakesh Lodha, Head, Professor, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, AIIMS, Delhi, who was the speaker during the webinar, further explained by showing the data about the infection rate in children but more data is still required.

“Now what we see is that our children are more frequently affected. I think we need some data and I think that data is likely to be available soon. But apparently, there doesn’t seem to be a dramatic increase in the proportion the absolute numbers are likely to go up as the cumulative or the total number of cases increase in the country.”

He also explained the reason behind children getting affected by COVID in comparison to adults and the elderly population.

“Why are children less frequently less severely affected? They respond to the virus in a better way. In addition, if the lung gets involved, then the excellent regeneration capacity of the pediatric alveolar epitheliun would help in a more rapid and more complete recovery. And the absence of risk factors like various comorbidities that we see in adults and elderly like smoking and diabetes are obviously less seen in children. So all of these contribute to less severe disease in children.”

“The Omicron is clearly more contagious and against the values of R nought, which kind of gives an idea about how contagious it is, how easily it can spread. Various groups have estimated it to be much higher than what was there for delta and for the original virus. It’s believed to be more than seven, some groups have estimated even to be close to 10 or more than 10. And in that scenario, it comes close to measles which is a highly contagious disease that we see children.”

During the webinar, the team of experts also suggested that in terms of the diagnostics to detect COVID remains the same.

The panel of doctors also discussed and explained the clinical features of Covid19, Omicron clinical features, Omicron versus Delta and its effects on Children and risk factors for severe diseases due to Omicron.

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