Dr. Kaufman has been studying the new strain as he sees a steady number of COVID patients however, he says cases have tapered off since the surge in November.
“We know there’s been mutations to the spike protein which is how this virus gets into the cells,” he explained.
The new variant of COVID-19 may not only be 70% more transmissible but there are many unknowns. Now, researchers are trying to find out if it reacts differently in children.
“I see a few COVID patients every day,” Dr. Noah Kaufman, and ER Specialist at Banner Health in Boulder said.
Kaufman doesn’t know if the new strain will send in younger patients through his ER, but medical staff are prepared if it happens.
“As we all know in March many kids were on break then they were sheltered in place,” Dr. Hara Levy at National Jewish Health in Denver said.
She heads the division for pulmonology in pediatrics, and she’s worried for a couple of reasons.
“We know the transmission rate is higher and that it does have a higher viral load, so the concern would be with a higher viral load, that there could be worse symptoms,” she explained.
Researchers just don’t know yet, in the meantime trials for younger patients to get vaccinated are still underway.
“I think it also speaks to the fact that kids really need to be considered to be moved up in the line for the vaccinations,” she said.
Depending on the vaccines currently available, the cut off age is either 16 or 18.
“At National Jewish Health we have developed specialized COVID care clinics for pediatrics,” she added.
National Jewish Health is not aware of any patients with the new strain, but they are standing by if it shows up. This now makes hand hygiene, masking, and social distancing more important than ever.
“Wear your masks, get into see us if you’re getting ill, quarantine and do all the right things until you or your loved ones, at least older adults can get the vaccine,” Dr. Kaufman said.
Dr. Kaufman also noted that it’s a good idea to be extremely careful around grandparents or those who are in the older adults population.