KEY POINTS

  • The child was initially thought to be suffering from food poisoning
  • COVID-19 deaths involving young children are rare
  • President Biden said children under 12 could be vaccinated soon

A healthy five-year-old boy from Calhoun, Georgia, died of COVID-19 on Friday as the country battles a surge of infections driven by more contagious coronavirus variants. 

Wyatt Gary Gibson died at the Erlander Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, after he tested positive for COVID-19, his obituary read. The five-year-old did not have any underlying medical conditions prior to his death.

His father, Wes Gibson, and his infant sister were also diagnosed with COVID-19, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. 

The family initially thought Wyatt was suffering from food poisoning after he appeared nauseous and lethargic. 

“A day, two. No appetite, a little vomiting, a bit lethargic. He’d barely had more than the sniffle or two as prior illnesses go. Then the white tongue. Alarmed, he was hustled off to the local hospital. Then the next day to TC Thompson Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga, TN,” Andrea Mitchell, Wyatt's maternal grandmother, said in a statement.

Wyatt was diagnosed with COVID-19 and strep and staph infections. He died in his mother’s arms after suffering a stroke.

COVID-19 deaths involving young children are rare. In Georgia, only 11 of the state’s 18,600 infections involved young children, according to records from the state’s Public Health Department. 

In Tenessee, Wyatt was one of only five children under the age of 11 who died due to COVID-19, data from the state’s Department of Health showed.

Across the United States, approximately 335 of more than 600,000 people who died from the novel coronavirus were under the age of 18, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is unclear whether Wyatt was infected by the Delta variant of COVID-19, which currently accounts for more than 83% of all sequenced cases in the country. In June, the variant only accounted for 30% of new cases.

Medical experts have warned that the variant could spread among the unvaccinated population as well as young children. 

As of Wednesday, there is no vaccine available for children under 12. However, President Joe Biden teased that young children may get vaccinated “soon,” but noted that it’s up to scientists. 

"The expectation -- they're not promising me any specific date -- but my expectation talking to the group of scientists we put together ... is that sometime, maybe in the beginning of the school year, at the end of August, beginning of September, October, they'll get a final approval saying the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) said, 'No, this is it. It's good,'” he said.

Hong Kong is a poster child for inequality, and over the last two years the number of households earning just HK$9,100 ($1,170) or less a month has doubled to more than 149,000 Hong Kong is a poster child for inequality, and over the last two years the number of households earning just HK$9,100 ($1,170) or less a month has doubled to more than 149,000 Photo: AFP / Anthony WALLACE