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According to CDC estimates, 3 out of 4 children had coronavirus infections Health

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Mike STABB is an AP medical writer

NEW YORK (AP) – Three out of four children in the U.S. were infected with coronavirus, and more than half of all Americans had signs of previous infections, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report Tuesday.

Researchers studied blood samples from more than 200,000 Americans and looked for antibodies that fight viruses made from infections rather than vaccines. Found that signs of past infection rose sharply between December and February, when a more contagious version of omicron slipped into the United States

For Americans of all ages, about 34% had signs of a previous infection in December. In just two months, 58% had done so.

“I expected it to increase. I didn’t expect it to increase so much, ”said Dr. Christy Clark, co-chair of the CDC team that monitors the extent of coronavirus infection.

The news came when Pfizer asked permission to offer a booster dose to children ages 5 to 11, as people aged 12 and older can get.

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In the CDC report, the brightest growth was in children. The percentage of people under the age of 17 with antibodies rose from about 45% in December to about 75% in February.

The older people were, the less likely they were to have signs of past infections. This may be due to the fact that older people have higher levels of vaccination and they are more likely to take other precautions against COVID-19, such as wearing masks and avoiding crowds, Clark said.

Reported cases of COVID-19 had a huge surge in December and January and then declined almost as sharply as they rose. But the daily number of cases in recent weeks is growing again.

It is believed that the number of cases is underestimated, but officials believe that the recent increase reflects a real increase in infections. Many COVID-19 infections are fairly easy, so patients do not seek help or confirm laboratory tests. CDC officials say they plan to publish a study soon, according to which there have been three infections for every reported case in recent months.

Another recent trend: U.S. health officials say there has been an increase in hospitalizations with COVID-19 in two weeks, although those numbers remain relatively low. Admission to the hospital is about 1,600 people a day, up 9% from the previous week, according to the CDC.

The available evidence, however, gives reason to hope for the pandemic, officials say.

“We do not expect more serious diseases from some of these sub-options, but we are actively studying them,” CDC Director Dr. Rachel Valensky said on Tuesday.

Tests that have shown how many people have had previous infections can detect antibodies within one to two years after infection and possibly longer. Studies have shown that pre-infection may protect some people from serious illness and hospitalization, but CDC officials stressed that previously infected people still need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The study looked for any detectable antibody levels; he did not distinguish how many people had levels of antibodies that could be protective. Scientists are still trying to understand the role that these types of antibodies play in protecting against the future effects of viruses.

Officials continue to urge Americans to get vaccines and boosters that offer additional protection against COVID-19 for everyone, including those who have previously been infected.

The U.S. is currently offering a booster dose starting at age 12, but Pfizer and BioNTech on Tuesday asked the Food and Drug Administration to allow healthy infants to also receive one – about six months after the last vaccination. The companies cite a small study showing that an additional injection for children aged 5 to 11 years activated antibodies capable of fighting the super-infectious version of omicron. Pfizer pediatric injections make up a third of the dose given to anyone 12 and older.

AP Medical writer Lauran Neergaard of Washington contributed to this report.

The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is fully responsible for all content.

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