Corona incidence in children and adolescents – SWR Aktuell

Here you can find out how the number of infections and hospitalizations among children has developed in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate.

It has not yet been clarified how children are exposed to the risk of corona infection. There are indications that a significant number of children are developing Covid, that is, a long-term variant. In addition, children often have to be treated in hospital due to severe Covid-19 disease. At the same time, very few children have acute symptoms of the disease. What is clear is that children contract the virus just as much as adults and then develop enough viral loads to infect others.

Injury in children: this is the situation with you:

Why is the rate of infection increasing faster in children than in adults?
Read our explanation more in the article. ↓

Comparison between corona infection in children and adults

for the current numbers SWRdata Daily updated infection figures from the Robert Koch Institute. For simplicity, three age categories were formed from the available recent data:

  • Children up to 14 years old
  • Adults and youth from 15 to 59 years old
  • Seniors over 60 years old

In a few exceptional cases, the patient’s recorded age is not known.

The following information has been prepared for you from this data:

Figures for hospitalization of children can be found below in the article ↓

Children are tested frequently, especially in child care facilities and schools, to prevent outbreaks and stop the spread of the virus at an early stage. Due to the high level of testing, there could theoretically be a disproportionate frequency of asymptomatic affected children, that is, phenotypically normal children recognized. Evaluation shows that this is currently the case only selectively. In many areas, the proportion of children in all new infections is within the expected range.

Children are also expected to participate in the infection according to their proportions in the population. The problem with this is that if many adults are infected, children are often affected as well. The picture shows that children are not adequately protected. Therefore, they are particularly affected in the stage of high infection. Due to the high prevalence of the virus in the general population, infection in this age group develops faster than in all other groups.

The different testing strategies do not necessarily overrepresent the affected children, i.e. they are found more frequently. Alternatively, school exams can open up the possibility to continue. Whether this was successful cannot be determined from the available data. The analysis described here at least examines whether infection among children develops more dynamically than in the 15 to 59-year age group (hereinafter referred to as ‘adults’). For this presentation, the percentage of 7-day incidence progression compared to the previous week is compared for the two age groups.

Reading aid: If the value in this graph is higher than zero, then the infection among children is more dynamic than among adults, that is, the percentage increase during the previous week is greater among children than among adults. On the contrary, when the value is less than zero, the infection increases more in adults than in children:

Hospitalizations of children make up a small portion of Covid 19 hospital admissions in Germany. However, it is not uncommon. About five percent of all COVID-19 cases that need to be treated in hospital are currently children.

In Baden-Württemberg, 15.2 percent of the population are children aged 0 to 14, in the Rhineland-Palatinate, the figure is 14.7. So children make up a relatively small part of the population. This leads to very high incidence values ​​at a high incidence stage. The computed values ​​increase faster to high three- or four-digit values ​​than are known incidences for the entire population. Arithmetic example:

  • For 10 cases to occur, about 1,000 registered cases are required in the total population of Baden-Württemberg.
  • Among children, 10 were reached within a week in about 150 registered cases.

The county numbers show how low absolute case numbers can generate high relative incidence values:

  • In the district of Birkenfeld in the Rhineland-Palatinate, for example, 22 newly registered cases among children have reached an incidence in this age group over 200. And 33 cases have already resulted in 300 cases among children.

Thus, each individual case weighs about six and a half times higher in the incidence calculation for children than in the same calculation for the entire population. Mathematically, this makes sense as it relates to representing a relative spread. However, the absolute values ​​are the most important because most regions in Baden-Württemberg and the Rhineland-Palatinate report double-digit case numbers within a week.
In children, incidence increases faster to higher values ​​due to individual cases than is known from area values ​​based on the total population.

Therefore, incidence in children should not be assessed using the IC values ​​of 50 or 100 that are familiar to us. As a reminder: The threshold values ​​are politically set in order to prevent health authorities from being overburdened when addressing issues, and they say nothing but something about the risk state of the population or even children to a limited extent. Figures on outbreaks in schools, for example, are more meaningful. Regardless, important trends in the development of infection in different age groups can be seen by the number of infections. If these levels rise and remain high for a long time, this is a warning sign. Because the epidemic then progresses faster than the general population. In a county where the infection rate among children is consistently above 1,000, more than 1 percent of children are infected each week. After this fourth wave – including the number of unreported cases and depending on regional characteristics – a significant number of children will likely have contracted the coronavirus.

Correction Notice: In an earlier version of this article, we made a direct comparison between incidence values ​​for children and those of adults by arithmetic. Since this can lead to misunderstandings, we have changed the clip. In order to show the prevalence of infection in children, we expressly refer to hospitalizations and the absolute number of cases, which we have distinguished here.

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