When It Comes to COVID Variants, Kids Play a Role in Transmission

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Currents News Staff

B.1.1.7 is the COVID-19 variant first identified in the U.K.

“Please understand, this B.1.1.7 variant is a brand new ball game,” said epidemiologist Michael Osterholm.

Michael is making the rounds to talk about one of the challenges of this variant.

“It infects kids very readily,” he said. “Unlike previous strains of the virus, we didn’t see children under eight grade get infected often or they were not frequently very ill. They didn’t transmit to the rest of the community.”

But he says now, that’s changed. 

Statistics point to Minnesota, where more than 740 schools have had cases of the U.K. variant.

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

It’s something medical experts in other countries called attention to nearly two months ago when the British Medical Journal said there was “emerging evidence from Israel and Italy that more young children are being infected with new variants of COVID-19.”

Now that it’s happening here in the states, Michael is questioning his own recommendation to send kids back for in-person learning.

“These kids now are really major challenges in terms of how they transmit.”

Getting kids vaccinated is crucial, but Michael says a hurdle could exist.

“We’re not going to have nearly enough in the next six to eight weeks to get through this surge,” he said. “We’re going to have to look at other avenues to do that, just as every other country in the world who’s had a B.1.1.7  surge has had to do.”