Every civilized society must protect its children. Are we fulfilling this duty? Because the eccentricities imposed on children during this epidemic border on mistreatment and will probably be remembered with embarrassment when it is all over. Indeed, we must ask ourselves frankly if the children are not paying for the fear and hysteria of the adults after a school year with masks worn for eight hours, bubble groups and limitations of physical contact that produce obvious pernicious effects on their physical and mental health with no epidemiological benefits worth mentioning. Some were even forced to wear masks while playing sports, and any transgression was severely punished. Worse still, they have been instilled and burdened with the guilt feeling of infecting their grandparents, and the mere thought of being able to “kill” a loved one has been traumatizing. It is becoming urgent to come to our senses, because the consequences of these excesses are serious, as the Spanish Association of Pediatricians has warned: “Cases of child psychiatric emergencies, eating disorders, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression and self-harm and suicide attempts in teenagers have doubled”.
To make matters worse, from an epidemiological point of view the measures in schools were never supported by science. First of all, for children Covid “is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza”, according to the data and corroborated by the best specialists in the world (Source: Dr. Kulldorff, Prof. Medicine, Harvard University, et al., gbdeclaration.org October 4th 2020). Additionally, “when children are infected, most are asymptomatic, and while adult-to-adult transmission is common, child-to-adult transmission isn’t” (Source: Dr. Bhattacharya, Prof. Medicine Stanford University et al, WSJ September 3rd 2020). Indeed, it was known from the beginning of the epidemic that “children are not responsible for the majority of transmission” (Source: S. Mallapaty, Nature May 7th 2020), which is why the ECDC’s own European health authorities reiterated already a year ago that “child to child transmission in schools is uncommon”. In Sweden, where schools were not closed and there was no coercive measure, there has been “zero Covid-19 deaths among 1.8 million children attending day care or school and teachers didn’t have an excess infection risk compared with the average of other professions.” (Source: Dr. Bhattacharya et al, WSJ Spt. 3rd 2020 and Dr. Ludvigsson, Epidemiologist, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, et al., NEJM February 18th 2021).
In spite of this, the Spanish authorities are maintaining for this academic year rules that are not only highly questionable from the point of view of public health, as we have seen, but that target small children who cannot defend themselves or protest. Let us take the example of Madrid’s region, whose authorities are aware of these data and yet prioritize, like everyone else, the politics of smoke and mirrors over scientific evidence. In Madrid, 0.36% of the population has died from/with covid, so that from the IFR lethality tables it can be deduced that probably more than 50% of Madrid’s population has passed the disease and has thus obtained a natural immunization much more durable and robust than the one provided by the vaccine (see “Superstition and science in covid”, fpcs.es). As if this were not enough, 80% of Madrid’s target population has been fully vaccinated, so what are the authorities waiting for to bring the schools back to normal? If covid is less serious for children than influenza, if the probability of transmission to adults is remote and if the risk for teachers (most of them belonging to the non-risk population and now vaccinated) is very low, what are they doing? Who will accept responsibility for the emotional and mental distress and disorders reported by pediatricians? Science supports, without a doubt, that schools should operate with absolute normality now, without masks or paraphernalia, and the opposite can only be labeled as political measures that sacrifice the welfare of children (who do not vote) to reassure adults (who do vote) and for politicians to cover their backs.
And if these non-pharmaceutical interventions lack a scientific basis, what about the universal vaccination program for these ages? A few weeks ago, experts from the UK Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization made a strong statement on this issue: “We do not currently advise routine universal vaccination of children and young people less than 18 years of age. The health benefits in this population are small, and the benefits to the wider population are highly uncertain. At this time, JCVI is of the view that the health benefits of universal vaccination in children and young people below the age of 18 years do not outweigh the potential risks.” (Source: JCVI, July 19, 2021). This neat statement, after which the JCVI received enormous political pressure to subsequently use all sorts of convoluted periphrases, shows that the risks of covid vaccines, made taboo and systematically hushed up, do not outweigh their benefits for segments of the population for whom covid is clearly a mild disease. Just as the cost-benefit analysis advises vaccination for the at-risk population (by age or comorbidities), the data do not support vaccination of healthy children and young people or those who have passed covid. These are the conclusions also reached by Dr. Ladapo, Professor of Medicine at the University of California (UCLA), and Dr. Risch, professor of Epidemiology at Yale University, in a joint article published in the Wall Street Journal two months ago: “Some scientists have raised concerns that the safety risks of Covid-19 vaccines have been underestimated. But the politics of vaccination has relegated their concerns to the outskirts of scientific thinking—for now. Nonetheless, the large clustering of certain adverse events immediately after vaccination is concerning, and the silence around these potential signals of harm reflects the politics surrounding Covid-19 vaccines. Stigmatizing such concerns is bad for scientific integrity and could harm patients. Four serious adverse events follow this arc: low platelets (thrombocytopenia); noninfectious myocarditis, or heart inflammation, especially for those under 30; deep-vein thrombosis; and death. Prior research has shown that only a fraction of adverse events are reported, so the true number of cases is almost certainly higher. The implication is that the risks of a Covid-19 vaccine may outweigh the benefits for certain low-risk populations, such as children, young adults and people who have recovered from Covid-19 (…). And while you would never know it from listening to public-health officials, not a single published study has demonstrated that patients with a prior infection benefit from Covid-19 vaccination.” (Source: WSJ June 22th, 2021).
If scientific logic does not support covid restrictions in schools or the indiscriminate vaccination of children and teenagers, these ethically questionable measures can only come from bureaucratic stubbornness resulting from mass hysteria, at best, or from clear economic interests and obscure political interests, at worst. We are facing a scandal that must end now, but politicians refuse to do so. Ask yourselves why.
Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo