Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb says that while 4.2 million children are reported to have gotten COVID, the real number may be much higher—and that could explain the increasing number of kids in the hospital and even the ICU. In an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Gottlieb said 25 million or more children may have contracted the virus, but the vast majority don’t know it because they don’t have serious symptoms and have not been tested.
While only a small percentage of children have been vulnerable to severe illness, the fact that so many likely been infected would drive up the number of those who require medical care. That calculus could mean that the Delta variant is not necessarily making kids sicker; instead, it’s possible the same percentage of a much larger pool is ending up in the hospital, Gottlieb said. “As schools reopen, the schools could become focal points of community transmission and can become environments that aren’t safe for children if we can't control very large outbreaks from happening in those settings,” he said, adding that masks and frequent testing are the answer to that problem.