WASHINGTON, United States — Nearly 8.5 million children in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, and COVID-19 cases among American children are “increasing exponentially,” according to the latest report of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association.

Kindergarten children play toys in a classroom at Montrara Ave. Elementary School in Los Angeles, California, the United States, on Aug. 16, 2021. (Xinhua/ MANILA BULLETIN)

A total of 8,471,003 child COVID-19 cases had been reported across the country as of Jan. 6, and children represented 17.4 percent of all confirmed cases, according to the report published late Monday.

The overall rate was 11,255 cases per 100,000 children in the population.

COVID-19 cases among U.S. children are “increasing exponentially,” far exceeding the peak of past waves of the pandemic, according to the report.

For the week ending Jan. 6, over 580,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported, a 78 percent increase over the week before, and an almost tripling of case counts from the two weeks prior, according to the AAP.

This marks the 22nd week in a row child COVID-19 cases in the United States are above 100,000. Since the first week of September, there have been over 3.4 million additional child cases, according to the AAP.

Children accounted for 1.7 percent to 4.3 percent of total reported hospitalizations, and 0 to 0.27 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, according to the report.

“There is an urgent need to collect more age-specific data to assess the severity of illness related to new variants as well as potential longer-term effects,” the AAP said in the report.