January 29, 2022

children facing an unprecedented spike in contamination

This Wednesday, announcing the opening of anti-Covid vaccination to all 5-11 year olds, the Minister of Health stressed that children were also facing a peak in contamination, with an unprecedented number of hospitalizations in France.

“There is more risk, and even much more statistically, of having severe forms of Covid when you are between 5 and 11 years old, even without comorbidity, than of having a serious adverse effect linked to the vaccine”. The Minister of Health formalized, on Wednesday, the opening of the anti-Covid-19 vaccination campaign to all children aged 5 to 11 years. On this occasion, Olivier Véran reiterated that it was “much riskier” for children to develop serious forms of Covid than “serious adverse effects due to the vaccine”.

At the microphone of Jean-Jacques Bourdin this Wednesday morning, the Minister of Health based his observation on the data to this from the United States: “They have made seven million injections in 5-11 year olds (since November 3, Editor’s note). Of these seven million, 14 adverse effects due to reversible myocardia”.

A very favorable report, as Olivier Véran underlined, which pushes to extend vaccination to this very young audience. Especially since children of this age group are currently facing an unprecedented peak in hospitalizations in France. As of Wednesday evening, 153 children were hospitalized for a severe form of Covid (against 145 the day before), and 35 were in intensive care, according to data from Public Health France. “And some have no comorbidity,” assured the minister.

One in 100 French children positive for Covid

While he admitted that these figures represented only 1% of hospitalizations taken in their entirety, Olivier Véran continued: “The incidence rate means that today one in 100 children is positive for Covid (…) It is in this population of children that the virus circulates the most “.

The factors of the spread of the virus are known: respect for barrier gestures problematic among children, school attendance and above all absence, until now, of vaccine.

However, it is urgent to ward off these difficulties because, as shown by the number of resuscitations among children, they are also subject to severe forms of the disease, in particular “what is called PIMS syndrome”, specified Olivier Véran.

The devastation of PIMS syndrome

PIMS, acronym for “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome”, refers to “cases of myocarditis with cardiogenic shock in children” after a recent Covid-19 infection, according to the definition of the Public Health Agency France.

In its surveillance report for this syndrome dated November 25, Public Health France detailed the extent of the damage caused by Covid-19 in children since the intrusion of the pandemic in France. She noted that between March 2, 2020 and November 21, 2021, 702 of the cases of PIMS that had been reported by pediatricians (out of 781 in total) were linked to Covid.

“Among the 702 patients for whom the link with COVID-19 was possible, probable or confirmed, PIMS was associated with myocarditis in 498 cases (71%). A stay in intensive care was necessary for 318 children (41%). and in critical care units for 199 (25%) “, we can still read in this report which also deplores the death of one of these young patients, aged nine years.

Medium-term challenges

The executive – Olivier Véran this Wednesday, like the government spokesperson, Gabriel Attal, the day before – keeps repeating: uncertainties remain numerous around the new coronavirus, a fortiori now that the Omicron variant turns things upside down for the umpteenth time.

However, cases of PIMS in children increase “in absolute number at the same time as contaminations”, according to Antoine Flahaut, epidemiologist working at the University of Geneva, with the Parisian this Wednesday. In the columns of the journal, the epidemiologist pleaded once again in favor of the injection of doses of Pfizer into the shoulders of 5-11 year olds: “The post-vaccine myocarditis all regressed without sequelae to my knowledge, while post-Covid-19 myocarditis has sometimes left behind “.

Benjamin Davido, infectious disease specialist in Garches in Hauts-de-Seine, for his part advanced a final argument to the Parisian: “Without falling into the discourse of terror, because I do not believe that there is a long wave of Covid in children, it can lead to learning disabilities, impair their concentration, lead to repetitions”. Behind the health emergency are therefore already looming medium-term issues.

Robin Verner BFMTV reporter