The Delta COVID-19 variant has presented a new problem in the nation’s battle with the pandemic. Although all three vaccines have been proven to be effective against the variant, Delta has nevertheless proven to be more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19, increasing the likelihood that an infected person might pass it on to others. The Delta variant has also led parents to consider if it presents a greater risk to children. Thus, doctors remain uncertain if this variant is more dangerous to kids.

Concerns about how the Delta variant will affect kids is particularly strong in the South, where vaccination rates are lower than in other parts of the United States. Dr. James Versalovic, who serves as head pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, says that it is too early to tell if children infected with the Delta variant will have any worse outcome than those who were infected with the original strain last year. Nevertheless, Dr. Versalovic says that kids who have become infected with Delta have higher fevers and worse congestion, a possible indication that Delta is more damaging to a patient’s health. 

In a concurring opinion, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, says that only time will tell if Delta is a deadlier form of COVID-19. Dr. Jha also points out that unlike the original strain of COVID-19, the Delta variant has a higher viral load, which indicates it might be more harmful to patients.

According to public health specialists, the best way parents can protect their children from the Delta variant is to get vaccinated themselves. Dr. Rick Malley, an expert on infectious diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital, says that since Delta is more virulent than other forms of COVID-19, adults getting vaccinated will reduce the number of vectors that could potentially infect children. In this line of thinking, vaccinated adults would act as a shield for children, who are not currently eligible to get any of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Given the rising number of people infected with the Delta variant, Dr. Malley also urges parents to have their children wear masks. Dr. Malley points out that masks almost completely eliminated the flu last year and are ideal for kids who spend a lot of time in close quarter environments, such as classrooms.