Dr. Anthony Fauci says statistics for hospitalizations among children with COVID-19 are getting overblown because many young patients are being admitted with unrelated ailments before they test positive.
MSNBC host Ayman Mohyeldin, filling in for Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night, asked President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser to respond to the omicron variant fueling a rise in children ending up in the hospital. Fauci said the surge in numbers has two contributing factors.
"First of all, quantitatively, you’re having so many more people, including children, who are getting infected. And even though hospitalization among children is much, much lower on a percentage basis than hospitalizations for adults, particularly elderly individuals," he said, "when you have such a large volume of infections among children, even with a low level of rate of infection, you’re going to still see a lot more children who get hospitalized."
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"But the other important thing is that if you look at the children who are hospitalized, many of them are hospitalized with COVID as opposed to because of COVID," Fauci continued. "And what we mean by that — if a child goes in the hospital, they automatically get tested for COVID. And they get counted as a COVID-hospitalized individual. When in fact, they may go in for a broken leg or appendicitis or something like that. So it’s overcounting the number of children who are, quote, 'hospitalized with COVID,' as opposed to because of COVID."
An average of 334 children under the age of 17 were admitted per day to a hospital from Dec. 21-27, which was over 50% more than the week before, according to the Associated Press, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That approaches the peak of 342 daily average pediatric admissions in late September.
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Health experts point to low vaccination rates among children over the age of 5, while younger children do not qualify for it, and only teenagers over the age of 16 are cleared to get a booster. They also stress that omicron appears to cause a more mild illness in children when compared to the previously dominant delta variant.