'We've failed': Record number of 6-17 year-olds being admitted to hospital with COVID

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·Freelance news writer, Yahoo UK
·3-min read
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CARDIFF, WALES - SEPTEMBER 20: Children wear face masks during a maths lesson at Llanishen High School on September 20, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. All children aged 12 to 15 across the UK will be offered a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Parental consent will be sought for the schools-based vaccination programme. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
The government has been accused by some critics of leaving children more exposed to COVID than others. (Getty Images)

The government has dropped its "plan B" COVID measures, citing the "huge success of the vaccination programme and falling Omicron infections".

However, some experts have continued to warn the scale of infections remain a cause for significant concern - particularly among children.

While the scale of deaths and hospitalisations are nowhere near the horrific peaks seen a year ago, in the seven days up to Friday, 1,828 people in the UK were recorded as dying after testing positive for the disease.

Meanwhile, 12,223 people were admitted to hospital in the seven days to Monday, the latest date for which figures are available.

Look further into these hospital admission figures, however, and another story emerges.In England, the number of six to 17-year-olds being admitted to hospital with COVID has never been so high.

The latest available seven-day rolling average of admissions in this age group is 53 per 100,000 people on 20 January, more than double last January's peak of 25 per 100,000.

The situation is outlined in this chart...

COVID hospital admissions among six to 17-year-olds. (Yahoo News UK)
COVID hospital admissions among six to 17-year-olds. (Yahoo News UK)

Children remain far less likely to become seriously ill from COVID. The rate of admissions of six to 17-year-olds, as outlined above, is well below older age categories. Over the whole pandemic, the admission rate among 18 to 64-year-olds is 686 per 100,000.

Yet, some have claimed that children are currently more likely to be hospitalised with COVID than at any point during the pandemic so far.

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This is mainly a result of the Omicron variant causing record infections. Through the pandemic, however, critics have consistently accused the government of leaving school pupils more exposed than others.

Prof Christina Pagel, a member of the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, which scrutinises COVID policy, said earlier this week: "We have failed to protect kids."

She pointed to the removal of face mask requirements in school classrooms - Boris Johnson's spokesman reiterated last week "it is vital children... can enjoy a normal experience in the classroom" - as well as the government only vaccinating over-12s.

A number of countries in Europe, on the other hand, have responded to high infection numbers by increasing their vaccine coverage to include five to 11-year-olds.

"We have failed to protect their education," Prof Pagel claimed. "This was all predictable, and yet here we are."

Deepti Gurdasani, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology at Queen Mary University of London, tweeted: "Our children deserve much much better than this - no mitigations in schools, and no offer for vaccination in children. Why country that has the resources to do this deny children these protections? I just don't understand."

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