“I’ve been a huge advocate of keeping schools fully open to in person education since October of 2020,” Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid response coordinator, tweeted final week. “Still am.” So why is Dr. Jha engaged in scare-mongering in regards to the hazard of Covid to kids?
In a May 30 tweet, Dr. Jha asserted that Covid is “a far greater threat to kids than the flu is.” He linked to an article by Harvard Medical School teacher
which claims that Covid killed greater than 600 kids in 2021, whereas the flu kills “an average” of solely 120 kids yearly. But Dr. Faust’s information are severely skewed, for 3 causes.
First, whereas flu is seldom examined, everybody admitted to a hospital for any purpose will get a Covid check. Between October 2018 and September 2019, 1.4 million flu checks have been reported to public-health and medical labs. As of May 31, 2022, there had been 897 million PCR checks for Covid.
Second, proof from audits of loss of life certificates discovered that 35% of all pediatric deaths in 2020 “had co-occurring diagnosis codes that could not be plausibly categorized as either a chain-of-event or significant contributing condition,” in keeping with a research revealed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Put one other method, in no less than 35% of pediatric “Covid deaths,” Covid couldn’t have been the trigger.
Third, Dr. Faust depends on a determine for confirmed flu deaths that’s well-known to underestimate precise flu deaths by an order of magnitude. Correcting for the shortage of flu testing, the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases estimated 1,161 pediatric flu deaths within the 2012-13 season fairly than the 142 that Dr. Faust reported.
For the White House to amplify a false message of excessive Covid threat for youngsters undermines public well being and erodes public confidence. It foments an faulty evaluation of threat and is the form of misinformation that results in extra faculty closings in addition to burdensome masks and quarantine mandates.
There are far larger dangers to kids than Covid. Since March 2020, greater than 1,000 youngsters have died with Covid (a median of round 38 a month), in keeping with the CDC. In the identical interval greater than 1,400 kids died from drug- and alcohol-related causes.
The greatest threat to kids comes from disruptions of their education. We will probably be cleansing up the school-closing mess for years, and fomenting baseless worry solely makes the duty tougher.
Dr. Bhattacharya is a professor of well being coverage at Stanford and a founding fellow on the Academy for Science and Freedom.
An earlier model misstated the estimate for 2012-13 flu deaths.
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Appeared within the June 6, 2022, print version.