The number of children under the age of five who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 has soared in recent weeks as the Omicron variant surges across the country.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that the rate of children under the age of five being hospitalized with COVID has nearly doubled since mid-December, rising from 0.5 per 100,000 people to more than 4 per 100,000 people. That is over four times higher than the rate of hospitalizations for children between the ages of 5 and 17, which stands at 1 per 100,000 people.
The average number of children and teenagers admitted to the hospital on a daily basis has doubled over the past two weeks to 766.
During a press briefing at the White House, Walensky admitted that some of the children were hospitalized for other ailments and tested positive after routine COVID testing.
While the highly transmissible variant appears to cause more mild infections than the Delta variant, the rising number of hospitalizations, especially among young children, is concerning to health experts. Dr. Anthony Fauci said that many of the children being hospitalized have underlying medical conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, that make them more susceptible to severe complications from the virus.
Currently, there are no approved COVID vaccines for children under the age of five, though Pfizer said it expects to have safety and efficacy data for that age group by April.