Two children on a ventilator and five more in ICU with Covid as Delta variant surges in Mississippi

‘Please be safe and if you are 12 or older - please protect yourself,’ tweeted Mississippi’s top health official

Clara Hill
Wednesday 14 July 2021 15:50 BST
Children have been cared for in the ICU.
Children have been cared for in the ICU. (AFP via Getty Images)
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State health officials in Mississippi have issued a warning about the hospitalisation rates of children with Covid-19 as the Delta variant soars.

Thomas Dobbs, the State Health Officer, said on Twitter that there are currently seven children with coronavirus in the ICU. Two of those are on ventilators.

Along with information about the number of children requiring serious care, the update read, “Please be safe and if you are 12 or older – please protect yourself.”

All people aged 12 years and over are able to get a free coronavirus vaccine in the state, however, uptake has been low in Mississippi.

Initially, Dr Dobbs had said there were 12 children in the Intensive Care Unit, however, he has since deleted that message after a hospital corrected its numbers. However, he promised an update would be coming later.

“And we will certainly provide more details tomorrow,” he wrote after correcting the error.

No information was provided about the children’s age, vaccine eligibility or whether they had any known pre-existing conditions.

Children are believed to suffer fewer complications with Covid-19 compared to adults. Symptoms, if they display at all, are believed to be minimal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite this, some children have developed life-threatening cases of the virus.

Dr Alan Jones, an associate vice chair for clinical trials at the University of Mississippi Medical Centre, gave more information about their experience with treating children in the ICU. He confirmed that his hospital was caring for four children, two of whom were on ventilators.

He told WAPT, “We have had more paediatric admissions than we had early in the pandemic.”

On 9 July, Dr Dodds explained at a press conference that the state has been experiencing a “pretty alarming” rise in the amount of cases of coronavirus and those being admitted to hospital with Covid. He attributed the rise to the Delta variant, which was first identified in India in early this year.

“We have seen pretty much an entire takeover of the Delta variant for our transmissions,” he told reporters, explaining they were “pretty much all Delta”.

He stated that the hospitals were able to cope with the rise in cases, but they were “concerned” about the future based on what was happening in other states. In three weeks, hospital admissions have increased by 26.7 per cent in Mississippi. Dr Dobbs outlined that the rise in cases has been seen mainly in young people.

As of 13 July, 275 people have been hospitalised with coronavirus. Three weeks ago, it was roughly 100 people.

Mississippi has the second lowest rate of vaccination uptake in the whole country. It is estimated by the CDC that only a third of the state is fully vaccinated against coronavirus. According to Dr Dobbs, unvaccinated people make up the “vast majority” of cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

Reasons for the low levels of vaccination are vast and varied. Following his failure to get 70 per cent of the population vaccinated against the disease, President Joe Biden has been thinking of new and creative ways to get the jab into people’s arms, such as getting grassroots volunteers going door to door.

“But the real thing is, we have a lot more vulnerability than we should,” Dr Dobbs said at the press conference. “We are way under vaccinated as a state. We have a vast pool of unimmunised people who are a perfect breeding ground for Delta variant, and it’s gonna kill folks. And it’s already killing folks.”

Due to these numbers, those aged 65 and over and those who have underlying health conditions are advised not to attend indoor mass gatherings for a while.

“Our collective under-vaccination in the state has put us all at risk, especially the most vulnerable,” Dr Dobbs said.

Last week, Dr Rachel Walensky, a director at the CDC, said at a news briefing that preliminary data showed that 99.5 per cent of Covid-related deaths were in unvaccinated people.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, over 607,000 people have died due to coronavirus in the US. Over 4 million people have died across the world.

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