News from the FDA/CDC

Decline in child COVID may signal end of latest surge


A second consecutive week of falling COVID-19 cases in children, along with continued declines in new admissions, may indicate that the latest surge has peaked.

New child cases totaled 226,000 for the week of Sept. 10-16, down from 243,000 the previous week and from a pandemic high of 252,000 just 2 weeks earlier. Children made up over 25% of all new cases each week over that 3-week period covering the end of August and the first half of September, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

Number of weekly COVID-19 cases in children, United States

New hospitalizations in children aged 0-17 years peaked on Sept. 4 – when the rate reached 0.51 per 100,000 population – and were down to 0.47 as of Sept. 11, the latest date for which data should be considered reliable, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The CDC’s data largely agree with the AAP/CHA report, showing that cases peaked during the week of Aug. 22-28. Cases per 100,000 for children that week looked like this: 154.7 (age 0-4 years), 276.6 (5-11 years), 320.0 (12-15), and 334.1 (16-17). The highest rates that week among adults were 288.6 per 100,000 in 30- to 39-year-olds and 286.5 for those aged 18-29, the CDC said on its COVID Data Tracker.

By the week of Sept. 5-11 – reporting delays can affect more recent data – the rates in children were down more than 20% in each of the four age groups, according to the CDC.

Vaccinations among children, unfortunately, continue to decline. Vaccine initiations for 12- to 15-year-olds slipped from 199,000 (Sept. 7-13) to 179,000 during the week of Sept. 14-20, while the 16- to 17-year-olds went from almost 83,000 down to 75,000. Initiations have dropped for 6 straight weeks in both age groups, based on the CDC data.

Despite those declines, however, the 16- and 17-year-olds just passed a couple of vaccination milestones. More than 60% – 60.9%, to be exact – have now received at least one dose of COVID vaccine, and 50.3% can be considered fully vaccinated. For those aged 12-15, the corresponding figures are 53.1% and 42.0%, the CDC reported.

When children under age 12 years are included – through clinical trial involvement or incorrect birth dates – the CDC data put the total count of Americans under age 18 who have received at least one dose of vaccine at almost 12.8 million, with vaccination complete in 10.3 million.

Total cases, as calculated by the APA and CHA, are now over 5.5 million, although that figure includes cases in individuals as old as 20 years, since many states differ from the CDC on the age range for a child. The CDC’s COVID Data Tracker put the total for children aged 0-17 at nearly 4.6 million.

The total number of COVID-related deaths in children is 480 as of Sept. 16, the AAP and CHA said, based on data from 45 states, New York, City, Puerto Rico, and Guam, but the CDC provides a higher number, 548, since the pandemic began. Children aged 0-4 years represent the largest share (32.3%) of those 548 deaths, followed by the 12- to 15-year-olds (26.5%), based on the CDC data.

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