NIH chief: Yeah, unvaccinated kids should be wearing masks everywhere -- including at home; Update: NIH chief clarifies

NIH chief: Yeah, unvaccinated kids should be wearing masks everywhere -- including at home; Update: NIH chief clarifies

Tom Elliott watched this and thought Francis Collins was recommending that *parents* wear masks at home around their kids, which would be even crazier since many parents are vaccinated. I don’t think Collins is saying that; when he refers to parents following the recommendations, I think he means the recommendations about when their unvaccinated children should be masking up for safety reasons.

But since the word now from the CDC is that the vaxxed can transmit the virus, and since masks are better at preventing the wearer from infecting others than from being infected, maybe Elliott’s right that Collins wants to mask parents.

Doesn’t matter. Either way: Masks at home? For people who live in the same household? To protect a cohort that famously almost never suffers serious complications from COVID?

Either the feds have lost their minds or they’re sitting on alarming new data about the potential effect of Delta on children.

And if they were sitting on data like that, I think we would have heard about it. Watch, then read on:

This segment raises an important question in its own bizarre way. Is Delta meaningfully more dangerous to kids? It’s more capable than previous strains were of infecting vaccinated adults, it appears, and (if the CDC is right) it’s also making vaccinated adults more infectious to others. Logically, one would think a hyper-contagious variant would hit kids harder too. But how much harder?

Hard enough, said one pediatric infectious disease specialist in Louisiana yesterday:

That suggests that Delta is more virulent in children, which is alarming. But how much more infectious is it? Are we seeing a 10 percent increase in hospitalizations over previous strains or a 1,000 percent increase? Numbers are hard to come by. But Florida has some:

Florida had 32 pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations per day between July 24 and 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adjusted for population, that’s 0.76 kids hospitalized per 100,000 residents, the highest rate in the country.

The Florida Department of Health reported 10,785 new COVID-19 infections among children under 12 between July 23 and 29. That’s an average of 1,540 new cases per day.

Anecdotal evidence from physicians is that it’s worse now:

Some pediatricians think Delta is causing different symptoms in kids than earlier strains, but it’s still too early to say if it’s more aggressive in children than COVID used to be. The question is this: Why is Collins emphasizing masking at home to prevent kids when there’s a far better option available? “The number one thing is for those who can get the vaccine, get the vaccine. That is number one, far and away, the most important thing we can do to protect our kids,” one doctor in Utah told a local news outlet. “We know the vaccine is effective against the Delta variant. As a society, if we step up for our children in that way, it will make a difference.” Ashish Jha of Brown University agrees. I posted this in the last thread but it bears repeating in this context:

Vaccinated adults are capable of transmitting Delta to others but they’re less likely to transmit it than the unvaccinated are. Surround your under-12 kids with a bubble of vaccinated adults and the virus will have trouble reaching them until they’re eligible for vaccination themselves. It had looked like that eligibility might come as soon as late September but the FDA wants more trial data from Pfizer and Moderna to ensure that the vaccines are safe in younger kids. So the new timetable is late October or November.

Until then, parents and kids should remain in space suits at home at all times, I guess.

Exit question: Is COVID really the biggest infectious threat to children right now? Their immune systems are out of practice from a year of isolation and now the viruses they used to swat like flies are back with a vengeance.

Update: Oh brother. Another public health bureaucrat doing more harm than good on TV.

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