PARENTS who want to see their children back at school at the start of September should listen to Trump, not Twitter – and certainly not the UK teachers’ union boss.
They should worry that Facebook, citing ‘virus misinformation’, deleted a post from President Trump and that Twitter temporarily barred his campaign from tweeting because it featured a link to a Fox News video in which he says, to reassure parents, children are ‘virtually immune’ to Covid-19. This, they said, ‘violated their policy against spreading misinformation about the coronavirus’.
We have to infer they don’t want schools to open this autumn any more that Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the UK’s National Education Union, who’s refusing to co-operate with the Government’s schools reopening plans over here. Au contraire.
Dr Bousted has told her members they must not trust government; nor need they worry about not complying with the national policy of reopening – the government is impotent to force them, she reassured them. Unlike the majority of parents, she appears none too bothered about children’s learning loss either, unaware of the aspersion this casts on her members’ teaching skills.
She chose to retweet this:
Thus parents who want a return to normal have Facebook, Twitter and the major British teaching union to contend with over the big excuse for stasis, which is exaggerated and unfounded fear that children and their teachers will be put at significant risk of Coronavirus infection and transmission.
From a cursory review of the available research, that the Facebook and Twitter adjudicators cannot have checked out before rushing to judgment, it is pretty clear to me that it is President Trump who is more right than wrong; and the assorted fear-mongers, union leaders, Lefties and Trump-haters who are a lot more wrong than right.
To start with, it has been known for months that the risk of disease and transmission in children is minimal in the case of Covid-19, and that the reason for this is probably a pre-existing immunity due to frequent contact with previous coronaviruses (i.e. cold viruses).
In April, Kari Stefansson, whose genetic sequencing project revealed how the UK infected Iceland, said not only that children under ten are less likely to be infected but that he had not found a single case of a child infecting parents.
A joint report from Sweden (without primary school closure) and Finland (with primary school closure) published in mid-July concluded that there was no difference in infection rates between children in the two countries.
A Canadian study found that most of the children with ‘Kawasaki-like’ inflammatory symptoms – a syndrome thought to be linked to Covid-19 – had no corona infection at all. The disease in children is ‘very, very rare’, the researchers said.
University College London’s systematic review and meta-analysis of more than 6,300 studies found children and young people appear to be 56 per cent less likely to catch Covid-19 than adults, supporting the view that they are likely to play a smaller role in transmitting the virus. Lead author Professor Russell Viner noted: ‘It is well known that children and young people make up only a very small percent of confirmed clinical cases of Covid-19 in most countries, including the UK. Children and teenagers make up an even smaller proportion of severe cases or deaths.’
Every science site you turn to agrees that worldwide, relatively few children have been reported with Covid-19. Data from the Netherlands confirms the current understanding that children play a minor role in its spread.
When they have contracted the illness, a significant proportion have been shown to have pre-existing medical conditions, but even then death is rare.
In the UK, by June 23 five under-18s had died of Covid-19.
Similarly, in the USA only 0.2 per cent of Covid fatalities have been under 17.
The American Academy of Paediatrics confirms that hospitalisation and death associated with Covid-19 is uncommon in children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 2 per cent of US domestic Covid-19 cases have occurred in children under 18. Twenty children under five in the US have died, out of some 23million children aged up to five. Yet CNN insists that dozens of children have died.
Meanwhile a report from the USA has recently revealed that three times more children up to 14 have died of influenza than of Covid-19 (101 to 31) since the beginning of the year.
(For a further analysis of the relative risk of Covid for children, see this edition of Lockdown Sceptics).
Then we have the warning of Robert Redfield, CDC director, that additional deaths from suicides and drug overdoses by adolescents have been ‘far greater’ than Covid deaths in recent months, a view of the appalling collateral damage – backed up by the Telegraph’s science editor last week – that Dr Bousted appears to have little concern for.
Finally, a German study I found has come to the conclusion that children actually act epidemiologically like ‘brake blocks’ and slow down the spread of the virus.
With medical evidence for the need to close schools still so thin on the ground, epidemiologist Mark Woolhouse, a member of the government’s Sage committee, has now admitted that it may have been a mistake to close schools in March. He said that there is not a single confirmed case worldwide of infection of a teacher by a pupil.
The simple fact is that worldwide, relatively few children have been reported with Covid-19, Children and COVID-19 and even fewer have died. And this of course is what President Trump knows. Whatever else parents think of him, on this it’s he who should be given the benefit of the doubt, not Facebook and Twitter or the subversive Dr Bousted.