In a recent issue of the Bryan County News (August 12, 2021) a lengthy letter was published admonishing local school officials for not enforcing masking for children in Bryan County schools.
I would like to add another perspective in this ongoing debate of the need for masking, social distancing and e-learning as it affects children.
From the outset I want to be clear that what follows is applicable to healthy children and not children with significant comorbidities that place them at increased risk of contracting severe Covid-19 disease. The vast majority of school age children would be considered “healthy”. For the vulnerable at all age levels special precautions are certainly encouraged.
Covid disease in children is typically a very mild disease. This is true for the Delta variant also. Children are not very good at infecting others.
Covid in adults is also for the most part a mild disease. This is true for the Delta variant also. The vulnerable populations have been identified and they need to be protected.
The risk for children are minuscule in terms of mortality from Covid. They can get infected. But Covid disease is generally a very mild disease in children. The risk from Covid in children is less than the risk of influenza. And the risk of influenza is already low. Sweden would be a good example. In Sweden daycares and schools have been open for children from age 1 through age 15. In the first wave of Covid there were no deaths in children from Covid. They had no mask or social distancing mandate. Children were advised to stay at home if they did not feel well. The same is true for young adults. We have around 370 deaths “attributed” to Covid in the USA for children. Those are raw numbers. These statistics have not been examined independently to verify that a death attributed to Covid truly was a Covid related death.
For influenza the annual death rate for children is between 200 and 1000.
Given that children are the drivers of influenza and not Covid, we do not require masking and social distancing as a public health measure in influenza. Nor, do we close schools for influenza. There certainly would be more rationale in the case of influenza to advise so.
Again, children are not very efficient at spreading the virus. Thus the threat of closing schools and e-learning is not a rational public health measure.
The Delta variant is more contagious. There is no data to support that it is a game changer.
Wearing masks, social distancing and e-learning all have significant negative consequences on the social skill learning, developmental growth and psychological behaviour in children.
The SARS-Cov-2 virus is here to stay. We cannot hide from it. We need to reach a stage where this disease is no longer a pandemic but rather endemic. We get there by acquiring immunity through being vaccinated and by acquiring the disease naturally. So doing we will uncouple the number of deaths from each successive wave of the disease from the number of cases. This is already happening in the second wave. Countries that have experienced the third wave of disease (Israel and Sweden) have experienced a further uncoupling of number of deaths vs cases.
Willem Kruger, Richmond Hill