Cadell Walker rushed to get her 9-year-old daughter Solome vaccinated against COVID-19 – not only to protect her, but also to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and create even more dangerous options.
“Love your neighbor is something we really believe in and we want to be good members of the community and want to model that mindset for our daughter,” said a 40-year-old Louisville mom who recently took Straw to a local high school. for her shot. “The only way to truly defeat COVID is if we all work together for the common good.”
Scientists agree. Each infection – whether an adult in Yemen or a child in Kentucky – gives the virus another opportunity to mutate. Protecting a large new population anywhere in the world limits these opportunities.
This effort has been supported by 28 million American children, ages 5 to 11, who are now eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech children’s doses of vaccine. Relocation to other locations, such as Austria’s recent decision to require vaccinations for all adults, and even a US permit for booster vaccinations for all adults on Friday, are helping to further reduce the likelihood of new infections.
Vaccinating children also means reducing the hidden spread of the virus, as most children are asymptomatic or mild. Scientists say that when the virus spreads unnoticed, it doesn’t wane either. And the more people contract, the more likely new options will emerge.
David O’Connor, a virology expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, compares infections to “lottery tickets we give to the virus.” Jackpot? The variant is even more dangerous than the currently circulating infectious delta.
“The fewer people who are infected, the fewer lottery tickets they have and the better we will all be at creating options,” he said, adding that people who are immunocompromised are more likely to have options. systems in which the virus has been located for a long time.
Researchers disagree about how much the children have influenced the course of the pandemic. Early research showed that they did not contribute to the spread of the virus. But some experts say kids have played an important role this year, spreading infectious variants like alpha and delta.
The Center for Modeling COVID-19 Scenarios, a university and medical research organization that brings together models of how a pandemic might unfold, estimates that vaccination of children could make a real difference in the future. The center’s latest estimates show that from November to March 12, 2022, vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 will prevent an estimated 430,000 cases of COVID in the entire US population unless a new option emerges. If there is a variant with 50% more transmission than the delta in late fall, 860,000 cases will be prevented, “a big impact,” said project co-leader Katriona Shi of Pennsylvania State University.
Delta remains dominant for now, accounting for over 99% of coronavirus samples analyzed in the United States. Scientists don’t know exactly why. Dr Stuart Campbell Ray, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, said he may be more infectious in nature, or may, at least in part, shy away from the protection people receive from vaccines or have previously been infected.
“It’s probably a combination of these things,” he said. “But there is also very strong and growing evidence that delta is simply more appropriate, which means it can grow to higher levels faster than other options being studied. So when people get delta, they become infectious faster. “
Ray said delta is a “big family” of viruses, and the world is now bathed in a kind of “delta soup”.
“We have a lot of delta lines circulating in many places, and there are no clear winners,” Ray said, adding that genetic traits are difficult to determine which might have an advantage or which options without a delta might overthrow the delta.
“I often say it’s like seeing a car parked on the side of the road with racing slicks, racing stripes, a rear airfoil and a big engine,” Ray said. “You know, it looks like it might be a real contender, but until you see him on the track with other cars, you don’t know if he will win.”
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Another big unknown: Dangerous variants can still spring up in nearly unvaccinated parts of the world and infiltrate America, even as American children join the vaccinated ranks.
Walker, a Louisville mom, said she and her husband could do nothing about distant threats, but could enroll their daughter to get vaccinated at Jefferson County public schools this weekend. Solomeya is adopted from Ethiopia and is prone to pneumonia due to respiratory illness after contracting tuberculosis in infancy.
She said that she wanted to protect other children because “it is not good to be sick.”
As the nurse bent over to give Soloma a shot, Walker held her daughter’s hand and then complimented her on choosing a post-injection sticker suitable for a brave child who had just contributed to help curb the pandemic.
“Wonder Woman,” Walker said. “Ideally.”