The number of young children hospitalized with coronavirus in the UK has significantly increased following the rapid spread of the omicron variant, a new study revealed on Friday.
The research published by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) found that the percentage of infants under the age of 1 rose from 30% to 42% during the rapid spread of omicron from December to mid-January.
The study also discovered a demographic imbalance in infant hospitalizations, with children in the poorest areas of the country being affected the most. Prior to omicron, previous variants, such as delta, influenced a 30% increase in admissions.
The omicron variant, however, is significantly more transmissible than previous variants due to its impact on the throat rather than the lungs, and the reopening of nurseries and schools across the country allows for its rapid spread among the infant population, which was not seen as much with previous mutations.
According to the study, however, the symptoms exhibited by the infants were not severe, with many experiencing mild cough and slight fever. The period spent in hospital has also fallen.
Between Dec. 14 and Jan. 6, the average length of stay decreased by 1.7 days. In comparison to prior variations, omicron is more likely to cause cold and fever-like symptoms in infants under the age of 1.
There has also been a decrease in the number of infants requiring respiratory assistance and oxygen intake by ventilation. Between Dec. 14 and Jan. 6, there was a 12.7% decrease in the number of children aged below 1 using ventilators, compared to the 20.6% recorded the previous year.
According to a study by University College London, the rise in omicron cases among infants is attributable to the variant's effects on young children's traveling by air, which is significantly shorter than those of older children and adults.