The Delta variant of the coronavirus does not appear to cause more severe disease in children than earlier forms of the virus, a UK study suggests.
Earlier this year, the research team found the Alpha variant of the virus did not appear to make children sicker than the so-called wild, or original, form of the virus, first seen in China. New data suggests that kids also do not get any sicker from Delta than they did from Alpha.
Researchers compared two groups of school-age kids with COVID-19: 694 infected with the Alpha variant between late December 2020 and early May 2021, and 706 infected with Delta between late May and early July.
As reported on Thursday on medRxiv ahead of peer review, children infected with Delta had slightly more symptoms. But in both groups, very few children needed to be hospitalized and long periods of illness were uncommon. In both groups, half of the children were sick for no more than five days.
The researchers lacked information on differences between the groups that might have influenced the results, such as whether lockdowns were in place, and the effects of different seasons.
“Our data suggest that clinical characteristics of COVID-19 due to the Delta variant in children are broadly similar to COVID-19 due to other variants,” the researchers concluded.
That appears to jibe with data reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Although we are seeing more cases in children … these studies demonstrated that there was not increased disease severity in children,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said of the Delta-driven wave in a statement. “More children have COVID-19 because there is more disease in the community.”