In a recent interview on MSNBC, Dr. Anthony Fauci asserted that unvaccinated children over the age of two should be wearing masks. “No doubt about that,” he said. I’ve been critical of Fauci’s guidance and messaging from time to time, and I’ve been very skeptical of public health guidance requiring disruptive COVID restrictions for children. Upon watching this clip, I wondered how many doctors agree that three-year-olds should be masked up during the summer activities or at preschool:
Here is a Harvard Medical School professor dissenting from Fauci’s view, for three specific reasons:
Those seem like good counter-points, do they not? I’ll underscore the second, crucial point by (again) highlighting new data on this front:
Children are at extremely slim risk of dying from Covid-19, according to some of the most comprehensive studies to date, which indicate the threat might be even lower than previously thought. Some 99.995% of the 469,982 children in England who were infected during the year examined by researchers survived, one study found. In fact, there were fewer deaths among children due to the virus than initially suspected. Among the 61 child deaths linked to a positive Covid-19 test in England, 25 were actually caused by the illness, the study found.
Upon further review, a majority of the already absolutely minuscule number reported COVID deaths among children in the UK didn’t actually die from the virus. This reminds me of the revelation in May that COVID hospitalizations among children in the US was dramatically over-counted. In short, we already knew that children are (blessedly) overwhelmingly safe from this awful disease. And the prevalence of tiny, tragic aberrations has actually been overblown. Here’s more data from the US on that front. Quote:
“Over the course of the pandemic, 49,000 Americans under the age of 18 have died of all causes, according to the CDC. Only 331 of those deaths have been from COVID — less than half as many as have died of pneumonia. In 2019, more than 2,000 American kids and teenagers died in car crashes; each year, according to some estimates, about a thousand die from drowning… according to one, much-cited paper, the infection fatality rate for those aged 5 to 9 isless than 0.001 percent.”
I’ll also note that the UK numbers (25 deaths in the whole country, out of hundreds of thousands of infections) are among everyone under age 18. The younger the child, the less risk he or she faces from COVID. Talk of requiring masks for pre-schoolers and elementary school students seems nutty. Watching this mother in Illinois begging officials to allow her special needs five-year-old to learn in a classroom without a mask on is incredibly frustrating. This seems needless and callous:
Some people have well and truly lost their minds. Finally: Defenders of Fauci’s position might argue that while children are exceptionally, exceedingly unlikely to die or have very negative health outcomes from COVID, isn’t it a good idea to help prevent them from getting infected and passing the virus to someone who’s older and at greater risk? In response, three points (1) see the Harvard professor’s first bullet above. (2) American adults have had every opportunity to get themselves vaccinated at this point. Crafting public policy, especially if detrimental to kids, in order to protect unvaccinated adults is a mistake. Leave the kids alone and let unvaccinated people live with their choices. (3)Via Allahpundit, infection rates among children are also incredibly low:
“One recent eye-opening report was recently highlighted in Nature. Among 900,000 in-school pupils learning in North Carolina last fall, researchers would have expected, based on local transmission rates, about 900 cases of COVID. There were, it turned out, only 23. In another study, among 20,000 Nebraska students attending school all year there were, in total, two cases.”
Like Fauci, I’m appalled that some conservatives now seem to view lack of COVID vaccine progress as something to celebrate — and I’m firmly against legislative anti-vaccine overreach, even if it’s a response to real or perceived overreach in the other direction. But insisting that little kids remain masked at this stage of the pandemic is yet another discrediting statement from this leading expert, and it’s no wonder that some many people have tuned him out.