With the second wave of Covid-19 gradually retreating from India, there are speculations that the third wave would have a devastating effect on children. Some experts have predicted that since the first wave largely affected the elderly and the second spike impacted many who were in their 30s and 20s too, the next wave could possibly affect more children.
Amidst such concerns, Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog has explained today that though children are not immune from this infection and do/can get infected, it has not taken serious shape in children. He said that the infected children would either show no symptoms or there will be minimal symptoms.
Our focus on childhood #COVID disease is gaining our attention. The pediatric population is generally asymptomatic. They often get infections but their symptoms are minimal or nill. The infection has not taken serious shape in children: Dr. VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog pic.twitter.com/JyBwbITEVN— ANI (@ANI) June 1, 2021
On Saturday too, during the press briefing of the Union health ministry, Paul asserted that though children can be infected and they can be infected to quite an extent, they account for about 3-4 per cent of hospital admission, in both India and the rest of the world.
Experts say the theory of children getting most affected in third wave is not based on facts
AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria on Monday also pointed out that though it is being anticipated that children will be infected the most during the third Covid-19 wave, the paediatrics association has stated that this is not based on facts. It might not impact children and so people should not fear, he added.
The Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) has said that though children remain susceptible to infection, it was “highly unlikely that the third wave will predominantly or exclusively affect children”. It also said that there was no evidence to suggest that most children with Covid-19 infection will have severe disease in the third wave.
IAP also confirmed that until now, almost 90 per cent of the infections in children has been mild or asymptomatic.
Dispelling the prediction that children would be most affected in the third wave of Covid-19, the Maharashtra Surveillance Officer Pradip Awate said that there is no scientific logic to information that coronavirus would change itself and infect children in the third wave.
Awate also used a note issued by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) which stated that children are as susceptible as adults and older individuals to develop an infection but not a severe disease. It is highly unlikely that the third wave will predominantly or exclusively affect children.
Amidst apprehensions, centre and state govt ramp up paediatric Covid care facilities
However, the central government and various state governments are leaving no stone unturned to ramp up paediatric Covid care facilities amidst apprehensions that the third wave will impact children. States like Uttar Pradesh are prioritising vaccination for parents of kids below 12 years and formulating children-specific protocol. Many States are either adding or earmarking beds for paediatric Covid care, including paediatric intensive care units (PICU), neonatal intensive care units (NICU) and sick newborn care units (SNCU).
Many states are setting up expert panels and task forces to protect children. Delhi government is forming a special task force consisting of paediatricians, experts and senior IAS officers. Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Goa too have formed a task force for paediatric cases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier called for the collection of data on the transmission of Covid-19 among youth and children in each district in a meeting with district magistrates and field officials of 10 states. PM Modi said such data must be analysed regularly to protect them.