If the Omicron wave in January caused a significant increase in contamination, good news: the number of serious Covid among children has not exploded.
The latest study from Public Health France reveals that the number of PIMS, rare but serious syndromes which occur in the youngest a few weeks after Covid-19, dropped drastically in March.
“20 Minutes” summarizes the latest information for you, which suggests that Omicron would be more contagious but less serious for them.
This is valuable information, especially since the vaccination of children under 12 remains low.
Almost four weeks after the end of masks at school, should we be worried about seeing the contamination of children at such a high level?
Last Friday, nearly 3,000 classes were still closed for Covid-19, according to figures from the Ministry of National Education, and 88,722 students had been infected over a week.
Two years after the start of the pandemic, we know more about the severity of Covid-19 on children.
And in particular on the Omicron variant, today responsible for 100% of contamination.
Contaminations exploded in January
We have sometimes heard that the January Omicron wave was “carried” by children.
“It was much more contagious than the previous ones, recognizes François Angoulvant, from the general pediatrics department of the Robert-Debré university hospital (AP-HP).
But this is true for all age groups.
I don't believe he has a greater tropism for children than for adults.
Omicron's explosion starts during the Christmas school holidays, it's clear on the curves.
If the contaminations have started to rise again for two weeks, the latest graphs from CovidTracker give hope that the cases are starting to drop.
A peak in contamination seems to be confirmed.
The number of cases published today is down from last Monday (-6%).
This was already the case yesterday (-7%) and before yesterday (-5%).
— GRZ (@GuillaumeRozier) April 4, 2022
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Hospitalizations rose in January, but then fell
It was from August 2021, therefore at a time when the Delta variant was in the majority, that we began to see an increase in hospitalizations of children for Covid-19.
François Angoulvant then launched, with colleagues, a study to collect all the entries in the 41 pediatric intensive care units in the country.
“Since August 30, 2021, 700 children have been admitted to pediatric sheaves with severe Covid,” he explains.
A third had an acute Covid, a third a PIMS, and a third a "fortuitous Covid", which means for example that a child hospitalized for a broken leg ends up with a positive test.
“These are the patients hospitalized “with Covid” and not “for Covid”.
“Of the acute Covid children in sheaves, 60% had comorbidities, and beyond 2 years, it was 80%”, assures the pediatrician.
And more generally, on the side of hospitalizations?
The peak seems to have been reached in January.
They have since declined, as shown in this graph from Santé Publique France.
Even if there is a slight increase with the rebound in contamination for two weeks...
Does this mean that Omicron was more dangerous?
“No, answers the pediatrician.
As there were more contaminations, there were more children hospitalized.
Most children will have a very mildly symptomatic Covid.
PIMS have fallen drastically since March
Beyond making an acute Covid, which almost exclusively concerns children with comorbidity (disability, respiratory disease, trisomy 21, sickle cell disease, etc.), the second risk facing Covid-19 is PIMS (for Pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome).
, these “pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndromes”.
“The good news is that there were a lot less PIMS with Omicron than with the previous variants, around 10 times less, underlines the pediatrician.
Before Omicron, the risk of doing a PIMS was around 1 in 4,000.
With Omicron, the order of magnitude is rather 1 in 40,000.
So yes, Omicron gives less severe forms.
Same relief on the side of Public Health France, which published last Friday its last point concerning these serious pathologies.
Since the start of the pandemic, 1,005 PIMS related to COVID-19 have been reported to the health authority by pediatricians.
A child died in two years, and 39% of the young patients concerned had to go to intensive care.
"In view of the very high incidence of cases during the 5th wave in children, and what was observed during the 4th wave, it was to be feared that the number of cases of PIMS would increase much higher than that which was observed.
But a clear decrease in the incidence of PIMS has been observed since week 08 [early March].
Other good news, still according to Santé Publique France: "despite an initial disease which can be severe, the data show that very few sequelae are observed during the follow-up of PIMS cases at six months, and it is not excluded that the clinical forms of PIMS linked to the Omicron variant appear to be less severe.
» How to explain it?
“No element allowed us to predict this, admits the pediatrician.
This epidemic, we suffer it like the weather.
What we do know, however, is that Omicron also causes fewer serious cases in adults, including when they are not vaccinated.
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Coronavirus: In the midst of the Omicron wave, is it really useful to vaccinate children?