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Child Health in Focus in Face of Delta Strain Threat: 3 Picks

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The last couple of months have seen some radical transformations in the COVID-19 scenario. Following a year-long pandemic-induced economic slowdown, people in the United States are now hopeful of a COVID-free scenario in the near future. However, the possibility of a third wave in other populous parts of the world on account of the spread of the highly contagious and more lethal Delta variant of COVID-19 has caused a stir in the U.S. investment market all over again.

Child Health Under Major Threat

More dangerously, unlike the earlier COVID-19 waves, this time researchers across the globe apprehend that children and the younger population will be more vulnerable compared to other age groups. Although, so far there is no evidence of the Delta strain increasing fatality risk among the younger lot, the fact that this age group is not yet vaccinated automatically puts them at the highest risk.

Data from India, the epicenter of the Delta variant, has so far shown that it is spreading more rapidly in under-vaccinated populations, mainly in kids and teens. Going by a india.com article, studies conducted by the Tamil Nadu State Public Health revealed that out of the 554 samples tested for genomic sequencing to identify the Delta variant, 386 were found to have been infected by the strain. Of the 386, 86 were below the age of 18. This means that more than 22% of the diagnosed population was from the younger age group.

Addressing it as a 'variant of concern’, the WHO, by the end of June, identified 80 countries, which have already seen infections caused by the Delta variant. Further, the sub lineage of the Delta variant, Delta Plus has so far been found in 11 countries worldwide including the United States, Britain and Switzerland. With a tremendous transmission rate, the Delta and its subvariants are expected to cause a spike in new COVID-19 cases across the globe, maybe in a matter of a few weeks.

The scariest part of the story is that while the younger population is more susceptible to these newly mutated strains of coronavirus, most of these countries so far have not done much in terms of COVID-19 vaccination drive for this age group.

Australia, in the recent weeks, with the massive surge in the ‘superspreader’ Delta variant, has amended its vaccination program to include teens aged 16 years or older. Although the younger population is yet to get under the vaccination umbrella, there is a possibility that vaccination will start soon for 12–15-year olds. However, no such initiative has been announced for children aged less than 12 years. And this is more-or-less the story for most of the nations.

Child Health Awareness Picking Up Steam

Parents are now focusing more on balanced pediatric and children nutrition to increase immunity among this age group, which might act as the first line of defense.

Further, due to rising prevalence of COVID-19 comorbidity conditions in children and adolescents, like type 1 diabetes and congenital heart diseases, along with post-COVID and long-COVID conditions, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), companies are coming up with preventive healthcare options and procedures to control this situation. Healthcare experts are also suggesting taking care of the mental health of the younger population as psychological problems often take a toll on body immunity.

Further, life-sustaining pediatric home healthcare services, which are effectively reducing hospital stays for infants and children are also gaining importance now. Going by a Grand View Research report, COVID-19 has a positive impact on pediatric home healthcare services as a healthcare facility is the best solution to meet the demands of medical treatment at home . At the same time, home healthcare limits the spread of the virus. Thanks to the pandemic, the global pediatric home healthcare market size is expected to expand at a CAGR of 7.8% from 2021 to 2028.

Child Healthcare Stocks to Grab Now

The pediatric health care market has faced short-term hiccups in terms of supply disruption and international trade related hazards due to global stay-at-home restrictions in the past year. Further, pediatric health care took a back seat initially as the early strains of COVID-19 did not impact child health at all. Through 2020, we saw companies like Abbott (ABT - Free Report) gaining in terms of adult nutrition product sales, while their pediatric nutrition business lagged.

However, the Delta-strain driven latest COVID-19 situation has led to higher spending on child health now. Here are three stocks with a favorable Zacks Rank and earnings growth projections for the current year. All of them have huge prospects in child healthcare at present.

Maravai LifeSciences Holdings (MRVI - Free Report) : This provider of life science reagents and services currently expects strong demand for its mRNA or Messenger RNA, an established platform for vaccines. Particularly, the regulatory authorization of mRNA vaccine usage across all groups of the population including adolescents, pediatric patients and pregnant women is expected to drive growth through 2021 and 2022.

This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock is projected to report 2021 sales growth of 150.4%.  You can see the complete list of Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Baxter International (BAX - Free Report) : The company’s Infuvite Pediatric is indicated as a daily multivitamin maintenance dosage for infants and children up to 11 years of age receiving parenteral nutrition. Amid the current pandemic scenario, demand for Baxter's multi chamber nutritional product offerings in the United States and APAC markets as well as nutrition compound growth in EMEA is expected to inflate significantly.

This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock is projected to report 2021 earnings and sales growth of 13.9% and 8.5%, respectively.

BellRing Brands, Inc. (BRBR - Free Report) : The company’s convenient nutrition category is expected to see significant rise in sales in the near term. Particularly, the company’s Premier Protein line for kids is expected to see protein shake consumption grow meaningfully in the coming quarters.

This Zacks Rank #2 stock is projected to report 2021 earnings and sales growth of 19.7% and 39.3%, respectively.

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