Covid-19: is the most contagious BA.2 variant also more dangerous in children?

With nearly 127,000 new COVID-19 cases recorded every day in France, experts speak of an epidemic resumption. This is related to the BA.2 subvariant, derived from Omicron, which is “today majority” in the country, according to the latest report by Public Health France, as it represents 73% of new contaminations. As of March 24, there was an incidence rate of 1,546 in 10-19 year-olds, 978 in those under 10 years of age, and 1,231 in the general population. Close rates, therefore, but the fact is that this form of coronavirus circulates more in children than others, previously observed.

The BA.2 variant, more contagious in children?

At the height of the fifth wave, the incidence rate between 10 and 19 years old was close to 7,000 cases per 100,000, twice that of the population as a whole. Higher contaminations than since the start of the pandemic, but it must also be remembered that the protocol at school implied take three tests systematically when a student in the class tested positive: by doing more tests, we also necessarily discover more contamination.

Regarding the BA.2 subvariant, Pr Antoine Flahaut, epidemiologist and director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Geneva, explains to the midi office : “Young people tend to be infected more frequently with respiratory viruses due to the high promiscuity of their school environment, which occurs in closed and often poorly ventilated places. The BA.2 variant is no exception to this rule, but since c is more of a contagious variant than the previous ones, it is even more likely to spread among young people.” And indeed, on March 25 in your weekly newsthe Ministry of National Education indicated that 81,424 students tested positive in the last seven days.

Is the BA.2 sublineage more dangerous in children?

The risk of serious form is what worries parents the most with the increase in contamination among children. In recent months, we have noticed an increase in children’s hospitalizations: 1,150 children were hospitalized with Covid at the end of January, when this figure never exceeded 200 before. As of March 24, 501 children under the age of 20 were still hospitalized. Inside the lancet, a previously published study looks at the Omicron variant situation in Hong Kong, where researchers noted that 1,147 children were hospitalized between February 5 and 28, compared to just 737 in previous waves. According to the authors, this could be explained by “the lack of exposure to coronaviruses in the last two years, resulting in a lack of immune response” which leads to an increased risk of developing a severe form.

However, in France, in any case, the number of hospitalizations of children must be put into perspective, as explained France information. First of all, as of March 24, 2022, hospitalizations of people under the age of 20 represented only 2% of the 20,000 patients hospitalized with Covid-19. In addition, it should be remembered that these figures take into account all hospitalized people with the disease, even if they are not hospitalized for this reason. For example, a 6-year-old boy who would be hospitalized after appendicitis and those who had tested positive would be counted in these figures, even if the coronavirus is not the main reason for their hospitalization.

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