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tv   Childrens National Hospital CEO on COVID-19  CSPAN  January 26, 2022 6:16am-6:38am EST

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smith college middle east studies. watch book tv every sunday on c-span2 and find a full schedule on your program guide or watch online anytime at book >> dr. kurt newman from children's national hospital joined paige cunningham from the washington post for a virtual discussion on covid-19 and its effect on children stop this is just under 20 minutes. >> dr. newman is president and ceo of children's national hospital. welcome back to washington post live. >> thank you page cared i appreciate having the opportunity to speak with you
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and your audience and i appreciate the focus of the washington post on children. it is so important because frequently kids are not thought of in these types of situations. >> i am looking forward to our conversation and i want to get into some of these questions about the impact of the pandemic on kids. but first i want to ask you more specifically about your own hospital. we have seen these surges across the country, but how is it impacting children's national? >> we are -- children's national is a hospital here in washington, d.c. we serve the region. we have seen the trend that has affected hospitals and health systems in communities across the country. we, through the beginning parts of the pandemic, with the original variants, we would see
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routinely a peak of maybe 20 patients in the hospital and they were sick. about one third of them would go to the icu. and people were thinking may be well, it doesn't have that much impact on children. but as things went along and now with this omicron variant, we have seen just how -- what a false set of conclusions that was. this variant is hitting children hard. it is hitting them differently. it is really impacting our hospital. with the other variants, our peak would be about 20 kids in the hospital at a time. lately, it has been about 60 or 70. about one third of those children are in the icu. what we are seeing out too is this syndrome that happens two to three weeks after the
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coronavirus, it is called multi-simpson -- multi-symptom inflammatory syndrome where the entire immune system attacks itself because it is turned on somehow by the virus and we are seeing that. those kids are ending up in the icu. those are just numbers, but as a doctor, before i was a ceo, and as a dad, married to a nurse, when you see a child that is struggling to breathe and can't get air and we have to put them on a ventilator and do those things, it is, as you pointed out, putting a lot of pressure on doctors, nurses, pharmacists, folks that keep the hospital clean. they are stressed but i am proud of how our hospital has stepped up. we have not turned a patient
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away. we have not close the clinic. we had a huge snowstorm in the peak of the pandemic when we had 70 of these kids in the hospital. we are here to meet the needs of the children. our teams will do that and i know that is true across the country at all the children's hospitals that we work with. >> you mentioned the significantly higher number of kids in the hospital during omicron. you mostly chalk that up to higher case numbers? or, are we seeing a more severe effect of omicron on kids? >> that is a great question. part of it is the greater number of kids that are impacted. when you look at the numbers, kids less than five cannot be vaccinated. they are at risk. the vaccination rates in children from 5-12 are not where they need to be. they are in the 30% range. there is this huge amount in
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numbers of children that are able to be infected, prone to be infected. that is part of it. the science, and believe me, the science around this is so important. it has been so useful. there is still so much unknown. the science we are seeing is that the kids are coming in with a little bit different presentation. instead of deep in the lungs, this omicron variant seems to hit the upper airway a little harder. the real problem for children with that, particularly the smaller children and the babies, and we are seeing increased numbers of babies and small children, their airway is smaller. they cannot take a lot of inflammation or infection. there is a presentation of the disease called croup. it's a lot like that.
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there is a barking cough, struggling to breathe. the good news is we can turn it around usually in a few days. only about one third of those kids need to go to the icu. of course come that's serious, but most of them recover. let's not take our eye off the ball. the fact they recover or it may not seem that serious when they come into the hospital, well, we are also very worried about the long haul syndromes we are starting to see in children, that syndrome i talked about were some kids have the inflammatory situation. and then it is also the kids that have underlying problems. maybe they have diabetes. maybe they are being treated for cancer. we are still in the midst of this but the good news is it does feel like we are just about cresting the tide and things are dropping off a little bit here in washington. that is another thing we've got
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to keep track of. it is not the same in every community. >> you mentioned diabetes. that reminds me of something i wanted to ask, there was a cdc study that came up suggesting that occurrence of covid-19 could actually increase the risk of diabetes in children. i know there has been a lot of discussion about the study and it seemed a little controversial. there was criticism that said some of the correlation, children that tend to have more severe covid-19 have a higher bmi which could be related to their diabetes. have you taken a look at that study? >> my take on that whole discussion is that it is very important. not just diabetes, but all of the other conditions that children have. there's so much that is unknown. that's my take away. the science is not all there. we have a clinic now devoted purely to children who have had
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covid and we are engaged in the study with -- a $40 million study to look at the long-term effects of covid on children. that is going to tell us a lot of things that right now are just may be hypothesis, like the diabetes situation. what i can tell you now is that we saw a lot more children coming in with diabetic ketoacidosis, the worst thing that can happen to a diabetic but totally out of control. whether that was part of the virus or it was the immune response, we do not know but the research and science is so critical. this clinic where we have kids come in that have been impacted by the virus, and maybe it is this long-haul, boykin that be a real struggle for these children. lots of times people don't know how to put rings together. all of the specialists come together in one place, they get
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a full evaluation and it is continued on. we have had kids now for months and months of symptoms. you think about this and, you know, i don't want to get totally involved with my personal views about vaccination , but i do not want people taking that risk. there is so much we don't know, like this diabetes question or the long-haul question, or the worry about the multisymptom -- multisymptom inflammatory thing. these are open questions in their art -- for a will have addictive and -- that will have a different impact. the science needs to continue. thank goodness the science has made so much help and the researchers, what heroes they are to get us these vaccines and the treatments and move along. we cannot wait for the vaccine
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that will be approved. hopefully this spring, for children under five. they are unvaccinated and they are at risk. we are not sure yet how that is going to impact some of these smaller children. great question. i do not have the answer but we are looking at that every day and trying to do the studies that get us those answers. >> i appreciate that and i want to drill down into vaccines. as you alluded to, the uptake of vaccines for kids 5-11 has been significantly lower. i think just over a quarter in that age group has received at least one shot. what do you make of that? did you expect that sort of response to the vaccines for kids of those ages? >> why am very disappointed. i did expect a much higher uptake among parents and
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children and the public health and all of us together to get that rate up to where it needs to be. i was not around when polio was such a horrible thing. i had a cousin that had to live with it. i have seen pictures. children's national, this is our 150th year of being a children's hospital. i have seen these wards of kids on iron lungs. we do not see that anymore and there are so many other diseases and a lot of these viruses hit kids hardest and hit them first. this one was a little different. as parent -- and i am not going to get into the public-policy
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side of it, but i want my kids protected. i do not want them to be worried about if they are going to have one of those syndromes and get something new or get the long haul. i want them in school. i want them to be healthy in school. we know they do better in school. the key to that is really protecting them with vaccinations. so, i am disappointed. our priorities are first, the kids that have underlying conditions that we are caring for. whether it is cancer, sickle-cell, obesity, you name it. we want to get those kids protected. our other priority is the kids that do not have necessarily the same access because of maybe where they live. maybe the poverty they live in. we get that out to these communities because we want to get those kids vaccinated.
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i am very worried about that because there's this huge number of children. we want them to be happy and healthy and we want to protect them. and also, i think as a responsibility as a parent, not only my own child, but i want the other kids to be safe and healthy and protected. that is the collective spirit that i think is what makes america great. we come together as communities and figure things out and do the right thing. and then there is this crisis that is kind of under the surface, the mental health crisis in children. and what was already a problem in terms of mental health and behavioral issues, has just -- the virus has just blown the
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cover off of that. there's not enough resources. the kids are being really impacted. i saw a study the other day that adolescent girls, there was a 40% increase in emergency room visits for suicide attempts in adolescent girls. you think about that. that is a situation that -- there's not a vaccine for that. these kids are going to be living with the impacts, so the best thing to do is to protect our kids. we've got vaccines and we've got the science to do that. >> i want to still play devils advocate. say i am a parent with kids. say i get vaccinated. ice -- i look up the science and i see it is good. but as a parent looking at the risk for kids, i am seeing that chances are they are not going to get serious illness and they will not be hospitalized.
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the rate of death is much lower for kids, so i'm thinking this is a new vaccine and i want to wait and see how kids react to it. what would your argument then be, to be, to persuade me to get my kids vaccinated sooner? >> first of all, i would respect your interest. it is wonderful to protect your kids. we don't want to do anything to violate that desire on your part to do the right thing for your child. but, doing the right thing for your child may mean doing what is right for the public good as well. your child may be impacted by what goes on with other children and families. i have personal stories of the family i know with cancer from
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couldn't get their cancer treatment because they had been exposed to another child that had not been vaccinated and spread the virus. it is a judgment call, but we've had enough experience now with these vaccines, that they are safe, they are protecting your children and most importantly of all, they are protecting all of our children. it's almost like the golden rule. we want to do onto others and we want to be sure that we are creating a safe society and our children our nash are our most precious resource. the other thing is, we do not know that this virus is not going to change again. having huge amounts of circulating virus, even though it may seem like they are not adding too said -- too sick, and i would still challenge that,
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creates the opportunity for new variants and things that we do not know and maybe be impactful in different ways. i would say, study it all. talk to your pediatrician. talk to the public health authorities and make that decision for your child. also, think about your community and the other children. >> we are almost out of time but i want to ask you another question i think is controversial. do you think we should be requiring coronavirus vaccinations as part of a mandatory immunization for school-aged children? >> i understand the politics of that. and how people feel about it. i remember when i came in, maybe a little before i came in as ceo , the vaccination rate for just routine -- back in the day they were not routine if you had
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measles or mumps or dip syria or any of these, some of these diseases were killers. there is the controversy because the vaccination rate in the children in our community was not near where it needed to be. it was 60% and there were kids getting those diseases. we have a fabulous political leadership here, a terrific mayor and city council, put in the rules and mandates with the school systems, so this is historic, but we got that up to 90 some percent and we do not hear about outbreaks of those kinds of diseases anymore. as a public health person, i feel like if that is going to be the way we get our kids to be in school safely, and that other kids can go to school, because if you had a kid with diabetes or asthma and you were worried
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that the rest of the group was not vaccinated, they might not be able to go to school. so, my overwhelming concept here is around thinking about yourself, but in the context of the public good. i think it is good for all of us to get vaccinated and if the only way is to push it hard through work requirements were mandates or whatever, then maybe that's what has got to be done. the other side of it had -- the other side of it is having another variant, or all of the long-term complications. why would you come as a parent, want to put your child at risk for that? >> we are out of time so we will have to leave it there. thank you for a fascinating discussion. so great for having you. >> thank you page and thank you to the washington post and your community. it is an honor to be part of
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this program. >> to check out which interviews we have coming up, head to washington's -- washingtonpostlive. calm. i am paige winfield. >> verge prime minister orest johnson has been under pressure about parties and gatherings he held at 10 downing street. the metropolitan police that they are investigating a number of those social gatherings held during the pandemic step he will face questions this morning from the british house of commons at 7 a.m. eastern on c-span2, watch online at or with their new video app, c-span now. >> c-span offers a variety of podcast that have something for every listener.
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