Doctors watching spread of COVID-19 variants closely as they await approval for vaccine for children

ATLANTA — Some parts of the country are seeing a surge in coronavirus cases even among children. It’s being attributed in part to fast spreading variants.

It’s something doctors are keeping a close eye on, including those at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta especially because children under 16 aren’t eligible for the vaccines yet.

States hit hard by spreading variants right now are seeing big increases in coronavirus cases in children.

In Michigan, their largest increase in cases is among ages 10 to 19. It more than doubled in that age group in a month.

Dr. Wilbur Lam, a pediatrician with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, said so far, they’ve not seen a major spike in cases. He says now and then they see little pockets.

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Lam said they are closely monitoring as variant cases increase in Georgia. He said they’re very concerned because the UK variant, which is the most prevalent one in the U.S. now, seems to be spreading more quickly and may cause more serious disease.

Lam is part of a team of researchers that also includes Emory University and Georgia Tech who evaluated at least 50 potential coronavirus tests for the National Institutes of Health.

Several tests that the team recommended are approved and he expects will be widely available in several months. Now with these variants, the team is looking at the tests in terms of the variants.

Lam said they’ll be assessing the diagnostics to make sure they can work against the variants. So far in Georgia, nearly a half dozen different types of variants have been confirmed.