The CDC recommends masking for children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

The CDC recommends masking for children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

( – At a news conference on Thursday, a reporter asked Dr. Anthony Fauci if the delta variant is more virulent in children.

“There’s no doubt that there are more children getting infected,” Fauci responded, without giving any numbers:

As I mentioned in one of my slides, the delta variant is much more highly transmissible than was alpha. So given that you will see more children likely get infected, and since you have a certain percentage of children, even though the percentage is small, a certain percentage of children will require hospitalization. So, quantitatively, you will see more children in the hospital.

Regarding the severity of illness, there was a couple of studies, mostly international, which suggested that delta was more severe in the adults, mainly, causing a more relative percentage of hospitalization and more severe disease. With regard to children, this could possibly be the case, but we are not seeing this in a definitive way.

The only thing we know for sure is that more infections mean more children will be in the hospital.

But it’s not yet clear if more children in the hospital will lead to a spike in children dying.

According to the most recent (August 11) data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 354 children ages 0-17 have died of “COVID-involved” illness in the United States since the start of the pandemic in January 2020. This is based on death certificates submitted so far to CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

(Table from CDC website) periodically tracks the number of children ages 17 and under whose death certificates list COVID.

On March 24, 2021, that number was 238; On July 20, the number had increased to 335; on July 28, the number was 340; August 4, the number was 349; and one week later, as noted above, the number had increased by 5 to 354.

Although the number of children dying because of or with COVID is likely to increase, children continue to be a very small percentage of all COVID-involved deaths.

The 354 children 0-17 who died of or with COVID as of August 11 represent 0.0579 percent of the 610,425 total COVID deaths in this country (based on CDC’s most recent death certificate data).

CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics also tracks COVID-involved deaths in children 0-18. These data show that older children (5-18) are dying in greater numbers than younger children (0-4).

As of August 11, a total of 423 children 0-18 had died of or with COVID. Of those 423 children, 131 (30.97 percent) were ages 0-4; and 292 (69.03 percent) were ages 5-18.

(Table from CDC website)

(Table from CDC website)

The 423 children 0-18 represent 0.0692 of total COVID deaths.

At Wednesday’s news conference, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, “What we know is that where we have higher rates of infection among children is where we have lower rates of vaccination, in general, higher rates of community transmission. We do know how to keep our children safe. We know how to do so in schools.

“And we know that most of the infections that is coming in through into schools is coming from high rates of disease in the community. So, the best way to keep our schools safe, and we know how to do it, is to vaccinate everyone who can be vaccinated, vaccinate family members of children who cannot yet be vaccinated, and then to follow the mitigation strategies in our school guidance, including masking in schools,” Walensky said.

The CDC is urging everyone 12 and older to get vaccinated.

As of August 12, 2021, CDC said 43.3 percent of children 12-15 had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine; 31.0 percent were fully vaccinated.

Looking at children 16-17, 53.0 percent had received one dose; 41.9 percent were fully vaccinated, as the CDC chart below shows.

(Table from CDC website)

(Table from CDC website)