When the pandemic first hit Australia in 2020, parents were told over and over again that COVID-19 wasn't really impacting children.
In 2021, the Delta variant seems to have changed that, with evidence from the most recent outbreaks showing that younger people are getting sicker from this strain.
Of course, this is unsettling news for parents. Particularly given the majority of children are ineligible for the current vaccines being rolled out in Australia.
Here's every question you have, answered by the experts.
Are we seeing a shift in the way COVID-19 is impacting children?
Associate Professor Asha Bowen is the Program Head of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at the Telethon Kids Institute, and Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Perth Children's Hospital. She also happens to be a mum.
"When COVID first became a pandemic, we knew pretty early on that children were not getting infected in the same way that they usually do with other respiratory viruses. They're usually the dominant population of infections when you've got a flu season going on, for example," she told Mamamia's news podcast The Quicky.
Listen to the full episode below. Post continues after podcast.
"We also knew that they didn't seem to be getting as sick as older adults with COVID and they were much less likely to transmit it to other people."
As Associate Professor Bowen explained, they were the three certainties we had through most of 2020. But then, the Delta variant arrived.
"Here in Australia we've seen more children included in the numbers [linked to this new strain]. In NSW, data in the last month or so shows about a quarter of all the cases have been in children under the age of 18, equally split between those under 10 and those over 10. Those are higher numbers that we've seen at any point in Australia or even really, globally in 2020. [But] it's about the proportion of the population, so they're not overrepresented, but they are also not under- represented anymore," she said.
In recent weeks, a 27-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman succumbed to the virus in NSW. A teenager, three people in their 20s, and four people in their 30s are among the Delta patients currently in the state's intensive care units.
So it is affecting younger people, particularly younger adults. There's no doubt about that.
As Professor Jason Kovacic, from Sydney's Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, told the ABC, "anecdotally we're certainly seeing a few more cases of cardiac complications in younger people from Delta."
"It may be inevitable that more young people die as this outbreak is set to get worse, but hopefully it's a very, very, very low number," he added.