The UK and The Delta Variant

Carter Mecher MD -- Medical Advisor
July 3, 2021

The delta variant is behaving very similarly to the alpha variant in kids and young adults in the UK, therefore we should be watching the amount of pediatric critical care beds and plan for limited capacity.

Look at what the data is showing in kids (ages 10-14) & young adults (20-30) as a result of delta. The spike in cases in kids and young adults is similar to what the UK saw during the alpha (B.1.117) wave. If it plays out similarly to the UK, it is going to impact a lot of kids and young adults here in the U.S.

The U.S. has very limited pediatric beds and pediatric critical care beds. Kids don't get sick enough to be hospitalized very often.  Deaths in kids are actually very uncommon.  

Of the 2.8M deaths in the US each year, about 20K deaths are in infants and about 20K deaths are in kids ages 1-19. Compared to other age groups, that number is quite small, therefore it is thought that there does not need to be a lot of hospital capacity to care for kids. It is now important to be looking at pediatric bed occupancy. If hospitals get jammed with pediatric cases, it isn't safe to put kids in adult ICU beds. Adult ICUs aren't used to the special needs and the drug dose adjustments, etc. It is quite concerning if you can't get a child a bed. It is ever important to monitor this. The country has very little flexibility or surge capacity for critically ill kids.

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