Children experiencing lingering symptoms weeks to months after initial COVID-19 infection, or so-called long COVID, most often face fatigue and headache, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said during a White House briefing.
Walensky said the health agency is examining the condition among kids, and noted the rates appear to be lower than that among adults, at about 2%-3%, and efforts will continue as the delta variant sweeps the U.S. and exacerbates the country’s case count.
In a recent statement from Dr. Amanda Morrow and Dr. Laura Malone, co-directors of the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Post COVID-19 Pediatric Rehabilitation Clinic, long COVID in kids can involve a wide variety of symptoms beyond fatigue and headaches, including "activity intolerance, lightheadedness, cognitive complaints resulting in difficulty with schoolwork, and mood symptoms."
"We do not know the expected recovery time, but many of our patients are having improvement in their symptoms over time," the co-directors told Fox News.
The clinic has seen some 20-30 long COVID patients under the age of 21, but additional children await care. Patients seeing improvement are receiving multiple therapies and are following a care plan based initial and ongoing assessments, the co-directors said.
Experts say it’s unclear whether the delta variant is resulting in more severe COVID-19 disease among children. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, noted during the briefing Thursday that the delta variant is highly transmissible, which will result in additional infections and hospitalizations among kids.
"There’s no doubt that there are more children getting infected," Fauci said, later adding, "Regarding the severity of illness, there was a couple of studies, mostly international, which suggested delta was more severe in adults, namely causing more relative percentage of hospitalization and more severe disease. With regard to children, this could possibly be the case but we are not seeing this in a definitive way. The only thing we know for sure is that more infections mean more children will be in the hospital."