Using the example of calculations made for the United States, scientists have shown how much hospitalization of critical patients needs to be prepared for pediatric intensive care units.
Scientists at the University of South Florida and the Women's Institute for Independent Social Research suggest that the number of children infected with the coronavirus is much higher than reported. This can cause a lack of adequate resources in health systems and pediatric intensive care units. The researchers published an article on the results of their work in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.
The authors estimate that for every child who needs intensive care for Covid-19, there are 2,381 children infected with the virus. This calculation follows from a report by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention regarding a clinical study of more than 2,100 children in China with Covid-19.
From March 18 to April 6, 74 children in the United States were admitted to pediatric intensive care units, according to the North American registry, Virtual PICU Systems. Based on the above calculations, an additional 176,190 children were likely infected in the United States during this period. 30% of cases of intensive care needs were in children under two years of age, 24% - from two to 11, and 46% were in adolescents 12-17 years old.
Researchers say that if in 2020 25% of the country's population becomes infected with the coronavirus, then by the end of the year about 50 thousand children with a severe course of the disease will be hospitalized, of which 5,400 may be in critical condition and need mechanical ventilation. Clinical reports indicate that the average length of hospital stay for a young Covid-19 patient is 14 days.
According to a national survey to assess the potential of pediatric intensive care in the United States and published in Critical Care Medicine, there are approximately 5,100 pediatric intensive care units across the country.
“Although the risk of severe Covid-19 in pediatric cases is lower than in adults, hospitals need to be prepared, equipped and staffed to cope with the potential influx of young patients,” explains author Jason Salemi. “Government officials and politicians need to understand the likelihood of problems arising, which underlines the importance of effective mitigation strategies such as frequent and thorough hand washing and sustained social distancing.”
Treatment of young children with coronavirus is complicated by the fact that due to measures of social distancing, parents are not allowed to them. At the same time, the child needs more time on the part of the hospital staff, which is difficult given the high workload of medical facilities. Among other things, after discharge, children may not be able to adhere to home infection control and self-isolation guidelines on their own.
The researchers note that infection rates will be much higher among children in low-income families. Their parents do not have the opportunity to take a break from work or transfer to a remote location. In addition, an additional risk factor is the typical multi-apartment housing in which such families live. A large number of people at close entrances, elevators and public spaces of adjacent territories create all the conditions for infection.