Growing concern over COVID-19 variant infecting children

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 2:38 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2021 at 9:06 PM CDT
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(CNN) - Less than 20% of Americans are fully vaccinated and some parts of the United States are seeing concerning increases of COVID-19 cases.

Experts are raising the alarm about a virus variant that appears to be infecting school-age children and younger adults.

The highly contagious B117 variant is on the rise in Europe and experts fear that the U.S. could be next if safety measures are not implemented.

“What we know from the past year of the pandemic is that we tend to trend about three to four weeks behind Europe,” Dr. Celine Gounder, an epidemiologist, said.

In Minnesota, more than 740 schools have had cases of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

In Michigan, more and more young people are being hospitalized as cases rise.

Last month in Florida, Orange County officials reported a rise in COVID-19 cases in the 18 to 25 age group.

“What we’re seeing is pockets of infection around the country, particularly in younger people who have not been vaccinated, and also in school-aged children,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said.

While that age group is relatively well protected, experts say younger groups are still vulnerable as the variant circulates.

Experts say the variant is more contagious and may cause more severe illness. Research suggests it may also be more deadly.

“It’s acting differently from anything we have seen before in terms of transmissibility, in terms of affecting young people, so we have to take this very seriously,” Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine said.

Experts say current vaccines seem to be working well against the variant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the U.S. reported a record over the weekend with more than four million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in 24 hours, but despite the vaccination numbers, experts say not enough people are protected and the country may be at the start of another surge.

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