The Facts About Kids & COVID-19
As summer begins to wrap to an end, kids returning to school looms in the not-so-distant future. Returning to school accompanies the added fears of large gatherings of mostly unvaccinated children in the midst of a global pandemic.
Staying educated about the potential risks and facts around children and COVID-19 is the best way to keep your children safe. Here’s what you need to know.
Delta COVID-19 Update:
Now, nearly 75% of all counties in the United States are considered to be “high transmission” areas, as defined by the CDC’s new tracking system. This number has increased by 13 percent in just the last week. “High transmission” is characterized by 100 cases per 100,000 residents in a county. Per the CDC’s updated guidelines, this means that universal indoor mask-wearing is recommended for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.
To make matters more complicated, Delta COVID-19 continues to grow as the most dominant strain in the United States, now accounting for 83.4% of all cases. Much is still unknown about the Delta variant, but we do know that the new variant is 60% more contagious than the previous Alpha variant and comes with a new range of symptoms. We also know that Delta COVID-19 is affecting children at higher rates than previous variants.
Children and Delta COVID-19:
Contrary to popular belief, children and adults are equally susceptible to catching and spreading COVID-19. The lack of equal representation in facts and figures is likely due to the often asymptomatic cases of children with COVID-19. But children can catch COVID-19 and spread it just the same.
In the last several weeks, pediatric doctors throughout the country have reported rising cases of hospitalized children with Delta COVID-19. The average number of children hospitalized from COVID-19 has been climbing steadily since early July. From July 31 to August 6, 216 children were hospitalized every day for coronavirus. These numbers rival the 217 daily admissions during the pandemic’s peak in January. Between July 22 to July 29, 72,000 new pediatric COVID-19 cases were reported, this is double the week prior. While most children had relatively mild symptoms, a small share of children do develop severe diseases.
What’s even more concerning is the rising number of children in intensive care units from symptoms of COVID-19. Gone are the days where children were completely unscathed by COVID-19. And for that, Delta COVID-19 could be to blame.
Emerging evidence from adults with Delta hints that the new variant may cause more severe symptoms. But research has yet to demonstrate if Delta is actually more dangerous to children. However, the testimonies of doctors seem to suggest it to be true. Reports from pediatric doctors throughout the country report that more children are being sent to the hospital after contracting Delta COVID-19. This is likely due to Delta’s increased transmissibility and the lack of widespread child vaccinations.
Children’s hospitals usually accommodate higher numbers of patients through the colder fall and winter months. This is due to influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other viral respiratory pathogens that spread in the winter months. The added surge of Delta COVID-19 could cause major concerns regarding hospital capacities. Further, pediatric doctors are already seeing patients with RSV and COVID-19 that are “not doing well.” There is no perception of what a duel case of influenza and COVID-19 would look like for a child, but many doctors say expectations are not good.
Chronic COVID and children:
Another fear accompanying contracting COVID-19 is the risk of developing chronic COVID-19. Much about chronic COVID-19 is still unknown. It has only recently emerged and while new studies are being published every day, simply not enough time has passed to know everything about the disorder. But researchers estimate that chronic COVID-19 may affect between 10-30% of adults infected with the virus.
The estimates for children with chronic COVID-19 are even more unsure. Dr. Collinas from the National Institutes of Healthy referenced one study that suggests between 11-15% of infected youths may “end up with this long-term consequence, which can be pretty devastating in terms of things like school performance.”
It’s important to remember that even COVID-19 patients with very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all are still susceptible to developing the symptoms of chronic COVID-19. So even if children contract less severe infections from the coronavirus, they can still develop chronic COVID-19.
The Boston Children’s Hospital has a program that draws chronic COVID patients from across the country. One of the doctors recounted that many of their cases are “kids who had COVID and weren’t hospitalized, recovered at home, and then they have symptoms that just never go away…” As of now, there is no good predictor as to who will be affected, how they’ll be affected, or how quickly one will recover from chronic COVID-19.
Pediatricians in Italy have also found concerning evidence that chronic COVID-19 is present in children after interviewing 129 children who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 between March and November 2020. In January, they reported that more than 33% of children aged 6-16 years old had one or two lingering symptoms over 4 months after infection. 25% of the interviewed children had 3 or more symptoms. The researchers echoed that even children with asymptomatic symptoms were not spared from the long-lasting effects.
Some studies have demonstrated that a higher proportion of older children develop long-term symptoms from COVID-19. This is likely due to the volatile hormones during puberty that could amplify an immune response. The strongest evidence for this theory is from the United Kingson’s Office for National Statistics. Researchers found that 9.8% of 2-11-year-olds and 13% of 12-16-year-olds infected with COVID-19 still have symptoms 5 weeks later. After 12 weeks, 8.2% in the older group and 7.4% in the younger group remained symptomatic.
Keeping your family safe through the pandemic:
The CDC’s advice for keeping children safe and protected from the highly contagious Delta COVID-19 is as follows:
Make sure to wear a mask in schools and other crowded venues
Make sure everyone over the age of 12 in the household is vaccinated.
At the Johnson Center, we encourage all of our patients to receive the COVID-19 vaccine unless contra-indicated. But we also recognize the importance of sufficient nutrient supplementation and maintaining a balanced diet in working to prevent a severe reaction to COVID-19. Proof of the correlation between proper nutrient levels and surviving from COVID-19 are present in many studies:
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a fourfold risk of death from Covid-19.
Poor nutritional status has been associated with in-hospital death in patients infected with COVID-19.
Vitamin C has been demonstrated to shorten infections and hospital duration of patients with severe cases of COVID-19.
Researchers hypothesize that B vitamins could potentially help to prevent or reduce COVD-19 symptoms and/or be used to treat an infection.
But again, keep in mind that these nutrients will not compare to the immunity-inducing effects of a COVID-19 vaccine. They should only be taken in supplementation with a vaccination.
Moreover, due to the mitochondrial damaging effects of COVID-19, many believe that "curing" chronic COVID-19 will start with the mitochondria.
However, there are several steps you can take to promote mitochondrial health and potentially alleviate symptoms of chronic COVID-19. The following recommendations have only been studied in adults. And as always, please check with your doctor before taking any new products.
To decrease mitochondria dysfunction, calorie restriction can be used to conserve existing mitochondria.
Spermidine can also be taken to support mitochondrial health. This profoundly important nutrient promotes autophagy and a healthy immune system.
While Exercise has proven to protect against mitochondrial decline. by maintaining muscle mass which encourages the health of your mitochondria, you do not want to over-exercise if you contract COVID. ATP is needed for exercise and your supply is limited. So conserve your energy to fight the invading virus. Walking, yoga and other types of low intensity exercise is best.
Foods high in antioxidants can also prevent damage caused by ROS. Such foods include: raw cacao, berries, matcha, pecans, artichokes, beets, kale, and spinach. Anti-inflammatory foods like heart-healthy oils, fish, fruits, nuts, garlic, herbs, and chocolate can also be beneficial.
Taking molecular hydrogen daily will decrease the damaging free radicals that are produced with the increase in reactive oxygen species. This will decrease inflammation and protect the mitochondria from damage.
Taking PQQ will increase the replication of mitochondria supplying new and healthy organelles.
The best thing you can do to keep yourself and your family safe throughout the ongoing pandemic is to get vaccinated. The next steps include keeping your body as healthy as possible in order to fight off severe infections. Providing your body with the proper nutrients, exercise, and supplementation is essential in successfully fighting off COVID-19.
Be proactive and have your child's nutrient levels checked before starting back to school. Supplementation should always be based on laboratory values to ensure adequate dosing.
To learn more about achieving optimal health with the Johnson Center, click here to contact us!
The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!