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This COVID-19 variant is a big threat to children, experts say

Nine cases of the B.1.1.7 variant detected in San Joaquin County

STOCKTON, Calif. — While vaccination numbers continue to surge across the country in the hopes of ending the COVID-19 pandemic, a new threat to children has emerged in the form of the B.1.1.7 variant. 

"The virus has basically started infecting our kids and they're becoming the spreaders of the new variants. And, what we're seeing is cases of kids going up and cases in kids with complications going up," says Dr. Payal Kohli, a Colorado physician and ABC10 health expert.

The variant has was first reported in the United Kingdom. According to Kohli, it is 30-40% more contagious and more deadly.

San Joaquin County Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park says the B 1.1.7 variant has already been detected in the county. There have been nine documented cases in San Joaquin, including one minor.

Doctor Michael Osterholm served in President Biden's COVID-19 advisory board. He previously supported sending kids back to school.

Now, he says the situation has changed.

"We will see in the next two weeks, the highest number of cases reported globally since the beginning of the pandemic. We haven't even begun to see it yet," said Osterholm.

Vaccination is key according to Kohli.

"In general, once you've been vaccinated the chance of getting very sick, even from the new variant, is a lot lower."

But, with kids 16 and older in California only eligible for vaccination on April 15, the wait for all kids to get the vaccine continues.

WATCH NEXT: California to allow large indoor gatherings starting April 15

How many people can attend events will depend on the level of restrictions in place in each county.