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Which treatments are effective for kids hospitalized with COVID-19?

Dr. Meena Iyer with Dell Children's said depending on the severity of the child's symptoms, kids can benefit from remdesivir, steroids and other treatment options.

AUSTIN, Texas — This current wave of COVID-19 in Central Texas is leading to more kids being hospitalized compared to past surges.

Dr. Meena Iyer, the chief medical officer at Dell Children’s Medical Center and vice-chair of clinical affairs at UT Austin Dell Medical School, said that most kids hospitalized with COVID-19 at Dell Children’s are 13 and older. She said about 90% of those kids are unvaccinated, even though they are old enough to receive the vaccine. Iyer said most in that group are either obese, have hypertension or have other underlying health issues.

She said most kids coming in are just in need of a small amount of oxygen, but if kids are hospitalized with more severe symptoms, the hospital has found multiple treatments to be effective. That includes remdesivir, blood thinners, steroids and immunomodulators.

Iyer said remdesivir has shown to be effective in both adults and kids.

“I think it's the timing of when you give the remdesivir, with how the patient responds and any of the comorbidities or underlying conditions they have,” Iyer said. “But it's a pretty effective medication.”

Remdesivir is FDA-approved for kids 12 and older who are hospitalized with COVID-19. The FDA has granted emergency-use authorization for kids under 12 who are hospitalized with COVID-19 to receive the treatment.

If a child is not hospitalized but has COVID-19 symptoms and underlying health issues, they may qualify to receive monoclonal antibody treatments. These treatments have been shown to help keep people out of the hospital.

Iyer said most kids come in with respiratory illnesses, but there are a variety of other severe symptoms they see in these kids.

“Usually they come in with respiratory illnesses such as decreased oxygen, pneumonia, and a lot of them come with diarrhea and GI illnesses,” Iyer said. “So those are the two big things you see with kids coming in with COVID symptoms."

If your child has symptoms, you should always get them tested for COVID-19. Iyer said that every child presents symptoms differently. If your child tests positive, you should get in contact with your health care provider and make sure your child isolates and stays hydrated.

At Dell Children’s they work to educate families on the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. They also encourage people to talk to their pediatrician or family doctor about the vaccine. They will even give them the vaccine in-house if they decide they want it at the hospital. Iyer said it is important for parents to get vaccinated to protect their children who may not be old enough to get the vaccine and to be a good role model.

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