The Perfect Enemy | COVID symptoms in kids for XBB.1.5 variant: What you need to know - NJ.com
February 2, 2023
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XBB.1.5 is the most prevalent, transmissible COVID-19 variant in the country right now, and the strain is affecting children and adults.

Here’s what you need to know about the symptoms of this variant in children.

What are the COVID symptoms of the XBB.1.5 variant in children?

The COVID symptoms of the XBB.1.5 variant are similar to other strains.

They include fever, sore throat, muscle aches, exhaustion, nausea, cough and sinus congestion, according to Dr. Stephanie Silvera, a professor of public health at Montclair State University.

Silvera added there are additional respiratory symptoms thatcan range from no difficulty breathing to low oxygen levels that require medical attention.”

“The symptoms that a person has will depend on a number of factors, including vaccination and booster status, previous infection, and overall immune function and health, which are influenced by comorbidities and other factors,” Silvera said.

How do the symptoms of the XBB.1.5 COVID variant differ from other strains?

The current strains of COVID-19 have some differences from those strains that emerged early in the pandemic.

At that time, many people experienced loss of taste and loss of smell as their main symptoms.

Most studies and experts say loss of taste and loss of smell are not common symptoms in XBB.1.5.

However, Dr. Tanya Altman, a pediatrician and author, told HuffPost that she has noticed children tend to have less of an appetite when sick and ask for “more flavorful or spicy foods after they recover, which to me suggests their taste may not have fully recovered yet.”

Does the XBB.1.5 COVID variant affect children more than adults?

Children are not necessarily affected by the variant itself more than adults.

However, how well they are protected against COVID-19 in general can affect how their bodies react to the virus.

“Children are less likely to be vaccinated and boosted, and being in schools, they are in crowded indoor spaces often with poor ventilation and air exchange. So, they are at greater risk for exposure, particularly since mask mandates have been lifted,” Silvera said.

Should kids be wearing masks in schools again?

Although many schools have lifted mask mandates leaving children more at risk, it is up to the family as to whether their kids should wear masks in the classroom.

According to CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, if a family is perfectly healthy and people are not wearing a mask while going to work and socializing outside the house, it will probably not make a difference if the child is wearing a mask in school.

However, if a family member is immunocompromised, then that family might want to take more precautions to protect each other, Wen added.

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Katherine Rodriguez can be reached at krodriguez@njadvancemedia.com. Have a tip? Tell us at nj.com/tips.