'Terrible Tragedy' As Healthy 2-Year-Old Boy Dies of COVID

An otherwise healthy toddler from Sydney, Australia, has died as a result of COVID in what doctors have called "an incredibly rare and tragic occurrence."

Two-year-old Carter Cheung died at the Children's Hospital at Westmead on Friday as a result of his infection despite having no underlying conditions.

The Australian toddler had been admitted to the hospital on Wednesday after becoming very sick. Acting Chief Health Officer Marianne Gale sent "heartfelt condolences" to the two-year-old's family adding that the death was tragic.

Pediatric infectious diseases physician at the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Philip Britton, told The Sydney Morning Herald that the death of the 2 -year-old was "nothing short of shocking and a terrible tragedy."

In Australia, there are currently no COVID vaccines available for under five-year-olds, with the Pfizer vaccine recommended for 5-to-11-year olds and the Moderna vaccine used from the age of six as an alternative.

In New South Wales, the region of Australia where the city of Sydney is located, the health department reports there are currently 211,527 active COVID cases. Of these 1,177 required hospitalization with 41 of these requiring treatment in intensive care.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that in the week ending March 12, that there were over 18,000 COVID cases in the under tens. Of this group, 38 children under 9 were admitted to the hospital as a result of COVID infections, with two of these children requiring treatment in intensive care.

Just last month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration u-turned on the decision to discuss approving the Pfizer vaccine for under-fives in the country. The reversal followed tests that seemed to show the vaccine was less effective in youngsters, with the FDA saying it would await further results.

The New York Times reported that the decision meant rules out shots for roughly 18 million youngsters in the U.S.until at least April.

Weill Cornell Medical College professor of microbiology and immunology John P. Moore told Newsweek: "While only a small number of children die of COVID-19, every one of them is a vaccine avoidable tragedy.

"It seems as if the Pfizer vaccine has performed sub-optimally in younger children because the chosen dose was too low. It's normal to use less vaccine in smaller children, but if the dose is reduced too far then potency is lost. That's what seems to have happened here.

"It's a solvable problem, but it will take time."

Despite this relative rarity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that during the peak of the Omicron wave of COVID hospitalizations of children aged 4 and under were five times as high in the U.S. as they had been at the height of the Delta variant wave.

The CDC urges that to combat this and prevent avoidable tragedies, anyone who can get vaccinated should do so as soon as possible.

A stock image of a toddler wearing a COVID mask. A otherwise healthy child in Australia has died as a result of COVID. Vaccines are currently unavailable in the country for the under-fives. yaoinlove/GETTY