White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted that many children being hospitalized with COVID-19 are there for reasons other than the virus, and just happened to test positive for it upon being admitted.
Fauci appeared in an interview on the Rachel Maddow show Wednesday evening, and was asked about an ongoing increase in children’s hospitalizations with the virus. Hospitalizations have ticked up as the Omicron variant has caused a surge in new cases, but overall deaths are stagnant from the virus.
“Quantitatively, you’re having so many more people, including children, who are getting infected. And even though hospitalization among children is much much lower on a percentage basis than hospitalizations for adults, particularly elderly individuals,” Fauci said when asked why there’s been an increase in hospitalizations even though Omicron is more mild than prior variants. “However, when you have such a large volume of infections among children, even with a low level of rate of infection, you’re gonna still see a lot more children who get hospitalized.”
“But the other important thing, is that if you look at the children who are hospitalized, many of them are hospitalized with COVID, as opposed to because of COVID,” he continued. “And what we mean by that, if a child goes in the hospital, they automatically get tested for COVID, and they get counted as a COVID hospitalized individual. When in fact, they may go in for a broken leg or appendicitis or something like that.”
“So it’s overcounting the number of children who are quote hospitalized with COVID as opposed to because of COVID,” Fauci said. (RELATED: Setbacks, Inconsistencies Mount For CDC Under Walenksy)
Fauci isn’t the first public health official to make these kinds of comments recently. Dr. Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia told NBC News Tuesday that he isn’t seeing an increase in children who are actually hospitalized because of the virus.
“We test anybody who’s admitted to the hospital for whatever reason to see whether or not they have Covid, and we’re definitely seeing an increase in cases. However, we’re really not seeing an increase in children who are hospitalized for Covid or in the intensive care unit for Covid,” he said.
Dr. Matthew Harris, a New York doctor who specializes in pediatric emergency medicine, told the New York Post that his hospital is seeing a “wave of diagnosis” in kids who came to the hospital for a reason other than COVID-19.
“A week and a half ago 2-3 kids were coming in with COVID per day, and now we have close to 30,” he said. “Not all of them are there primarily for COVID — they might come in for a broken leg — and test positive for COVID while they’re here.”
On the whole, less than one percent of children hospitalized with COVID-19 die from the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and less than 3% of total COVID-19 hospitalizations are in people under age 18.