A study from University of Hong Kong found that 15 per cent of children hospitalised with Omicron BA.2 had developed neurological complications
According to the report, about 15 per cent of hospitalised youngsters who had contracted the sub-variant developed neurological complications and more than 6 per cent had respiratory complications, with 21 children being sent to paediatric intensive care.
“We have seen seizures that lasted up to 30 minutes, swollen vocal cords, changes in consciousness and acute brain inflammation. All these are unique to this Omicron sub-variant,” he said. “It is particularly worrying because seizures lasting that long might lead to brain hypoxia.”
Kwan said that researchers were particularly worried about children contracting the sub-variant, with the strain capable of causing “severe damage to their central nervous system and respiratory system”.
Four deaths (0.35%) occurred during the Omicron wave, resulting in a higher in-hospital case fatality rate than other SARS-CoV-2 variants (0%), influenza (0.05%) and parainfluenza (0.04%). PICU admission was higher for Omicron than other SARS-CoV-2 variants (OR=18.50, 95% CI 2.42-140.70, p=0.005) and influenza (OR=2.32, 95% CI 1.48-3.64, p<0.001). The proportion with neurological complications was 14.91% (171 out of 1,147) for Omicron, which was higher than influenza and parainfluenza (OR=1.75 95% CI 1.48-2.08 and OR=2.06 95% CI 1.74-2.46, p<0.001 for both, respectively). Croup occurred for Omicron more than other SARS-CoV-2 variants (OR=11.47, 95% CI 2.77-47.46 p = 0.001) and influenza (OR= 2.08, 95% CI 1.58-2.74 p<0.001) but not parainfluenza.
Interpretation: The intrinsic severity of Omicron BA.2 is not mild as evident by the fatality and severe complications of the uninfected and unvaccinated children.