Covid-19: BA.2 more contagious and dangerous in children … the subvariant worries specialists

the essential
The virus circulation is increasing in France and it seems that children are particularly affected by this new increase in contamination. Professor Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist, is concerned about a possible resurgence of Long Covid among younger generations.

Are children the first to be affected by the epidemic currently sweeping the country? In France, on average, almost 127,000 new cases of Covid-19 are registered every day: a figure that has increased by 42% in a week. This surge in contamination was primarily driven by the sub-variant BA.2, Omicron’s little brother. According to the latest Santé Publique France survey, “the BA.2 subline is now the majority in France” and accounts for almost 73% of the contamination cases.

And it seems that younger generations are particularly affected by this epidemiological recovery. Contamination in schools is a key indicator in this area: in a weekly update by spn published on Friday March 25, the Ministry of Education therefore confirmed that 81,424 students tested positive for Covid-19 in seven days. At the end of the week, 3,080 classes were closed in France due to virus circulation. For comparison, the point shared by the ministry on February 26 reported 1,584 cases of contamination among students and just 72 closed classes.

“Young people tend to be more likely to be contaminated with respiratory viruses due to the high level of promiscuity of their school environment, which occurs in closed and often poorly ventilated places,” zu explains The midi dispatch Professor Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist and director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva. The BA.2 variant is no exception to this rule, but being a more contagious variant than the previous ones makes it even more prone to spread among young people.”

A dangerous sub-variant?

more contagious? Sure, but is the BA.2 subvariant more dangerous for younger generations too? At least that’s what a study by Hong Kong researchers published on March 21 on the pre-release platform suggests SSRN weekly medical The lancet. The study compares the Omicron variant contamination wave currently plaguing Hong Kong with previous contamination episodes.

According to the document, 1,147 children were hospitalized between February 5 and February 28. Hong Kong had “only” 737 in the previous four waves. According to the researchers, “a lack of exposure to coronaviruses in the past two years, leading to a lack of immune response,” could explain an increased risk of severe forms of the disease among younger generations.

Professor Antoine Flahault also points to the “low immunization coverage” of children in France: “France has one of the lowest immunization rates in Europe among eligible young people”. The epidemiologist recognizes that “this must not lead to a significant increase in hospitalizations for respiratory failure” in the country, but children with comorbidities and under-vaccinated “could pay a high price for the BA.2 variant”. Currently, 491 patients aged 0 to 19 years are hospitalized after being infected with the virus.

In addition to vaccination, the epidemiologist is also concerned about not wearing a mask in classrooms: this could “strongly increase the risks of a long Covid in unvaccinated children, with or without concomitant diseases,” the professor concludes.

Leave a Comment