COVID and Kids
Kids are significantly less affected by COVID compared to adults, and mortality from COVID is considered rare. The Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) is very low in younger children; only 0.002% at age 10 compared to 1.4% at age 65. This very low mortality rate is for all children, including those with pre-existing medical conditions. A team of Johns Hopkins researchers found a mortality rate of zero among children without a pre-existing medical condition such as leukemia. Children are at a much greater risk of hospitalization from seasonal flu than from COVID.
Even though COVID itself is of very minimal risk to children’s health, some justify instituting restrictions on children because they are more likely to spread the virus to adults. However, after examining the data from U.S. schools, the infection rate among children and school staff was significantly less than the infection rate in the broader community. Nor was there an increase in cases following the opening of schools. A study found that school teachers teaching in Swedish schools during COVID outbreaks were not hospitalized more than other professionals. In a study of North Carolina school districts with a total student population of approximately 90 thousand, 773 infections were traced to interactions outside of school. In school, only 32 children were infected and no instances of child-to-adult transmission were found at all.
While kids have been less affected by COVID itself, they did not escape the damage caused by COVID regulations including isolation, mask mandates, and school closures. The evidence was coming in fairly strong even at the start of the lockdown policies. In May 2020 just a couple of months into the restrictive measures, one of Canada’s top children’s hospitals reported a 100 percent increase in admissions due to suicide attempts and a 200 percent increase in admissions from drug abuse. This was not limited to Canada. Similar reports came in from other countries and throughout the COVID restrictions.   
There are numerous linkages between COVID restriction policies and deteriorating mental health in children, including domestic violence, reduced social interactions with friends, reduced physical activities, and the guilty feeling that results from being told you may kill someone you love. Some attention has focused on virtual learning that replaced in-class learning. In Milwaukee, for example, 60% of child suicides were linked to online learning. In California, an 11-year-old killed himself during a virtual class meeting.
The CDC published a report showing that from April through October 2021, the proportion of emergency department visits related to mental health was up nationwide by 24% for children aged 5 to 11 and 31% for children aged 12 to 17, compared with the same time period in the previous year. By December 2020 suicide was the number one cause of death in children aged 10 to 14 in the state of Ohio.
As the scale of the damage was becoming clear, some medical experts pleaded with policymakers to change course, open the schools and rescind harsh restrictions on children. Most notable was the group of medical experts that supported the Great Barrington Declaration. The declaration recommended that the COVID response be focused solely on high-risk individuals. It was signed by over 62,000 medical practitioners and medical and public health scientists. Those recommendations largely fell on deaf ears with the early and courageous exception of the prime minister of Norway who conceded that she made the decision to close schools out of fear.
In places where schools were allowed to open between infection waves, numerous jurisdictions required children who had been in close proximity to an infected person to “self-isolate” for 14 days. This policy of solitary confinement is perhaps the harshest of the COVID restrictions. A doctor of infectious diseases wrote, “This is a cruel punishment for a child, especially for younger children, 4-10 years old, shutting a child off from their parents and siblings for up to 14 days in this manner could produce significant and long-lasting emotional and psychological effects.”
“I don’t understand how any health-care professional has moved so far away from the fundamentals of public health and of doing no harm that they would think that basically incarcerating a child in a room for 14 days is in any way justified,” said Dr. Martha Fulford, an infectious diseases physician at Hamilton Health Science who focuses on paediatrics.
Perhaps the most unnoticed damage to kids resulting from panic-driven COVID policies is to the ones who were never born. “A CBS News compilation of annual data from 32 states showed 95,000 fewer births in 2020 than in the previous year.” This represents a 4% drop in the nation’s birth rate. In 2021 an even greater reduction is expected, estimated at 300,000 fewer births than in 2020.
Israel, even with its trend of rising birth rates, experienced a 2.5% decrease in births numbering (4,709 fewer births in 2020 compared to the previous year). When compared to the 2,609 increased deaths that year, a stunning conclusion is revealed. The panic resulted in almost twice as many fewer births than the virus may have caused in increased deaths.
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