There was quite a bit of talk on Twitter yesterday about new research showing that children do get infected with Covid-19 and do infect others. For more information I went to Dr John Campbell’s Youtube channel and discovered a video addressing this very question:
During the video, Dr John looked at research submitted to the JAMA network. If you click on the JAMA network link and scroll down to the very bottom of the screen, you’ll discover that JAMA stands for the Journal of the American Medical Association:
So what’s the bottom line of this research? Basically it says that children over the age of 5 have the same viral load in their nasal swabs as adults and therefore have the same ability to infect as adults:
Children from 0 – 5 were found to have a much higher viral load, meaning that they were much more infectious:
To state the bleeding obvious, this means that kindergartens and pre-school childcare MUST be closed if we’re to stop the spread of the virus. It also means that school age children are spreaders of the virus too. Given how impossible it is to maintain social distancing in school settings, this means schools must be closed as well.
Finally, although children tend to suffer less from the virus, there hasn’t been enough research done on the effect of the virus on children with co-morbidities – such as auto immune diseases. In my world, this means keeping children with asthma etc., away from any setting where they’re likely to be infected with covid-19. Better safe than very, very sorry.
Dr John Campbell first alerted us to this new, serious condition in children back in early May, and I mentioned it in this post. The condition was named ‘Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome’ and parents were reassured that it was very ‘rare’. You can find Dr John’s latest video on the syndrome here.
It terms of total numbers, Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome is still rare, but the numbers are growing, and we still don’t know much about it. What we do know, however, is rather scary because it upends the initial advice that children are miraculously ‘safe’ from Covid-19.
The following video explains these concerns very well:
I’ve cherry picked some important bits from the video:
0:40 ‘This virus has deceived us every step of the way. We have been behind this virus from the very beginning. And it still surprises us.’ [Andrew Cuomo, Mayor of New York].
1:10 [Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome] ‘… shares symptoms with the rare, potentially life-threatening blood condition, Kawasaki disease which can cause toxic shock.’
1:42 ‘There are now more than 130 cases recorded in the US. Three children have died.’
2:19 Image of the rash and swollen extremities of a child with Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome:
2:34 Graphic showing the most common symptoms to look out for in your child:
4:00 ‘We now know both that they [children] can get the disease [Covid-19] without symptoms, and they can become seriously ill from the disease.’ [Dr Lawrence Kleinman, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA]
5:28 [These children have] ‘…no pre-existing conditions’.
When asked whether parents should be worried, Dr Kleinman was diplomatic, but suggested that parents should be ‘aware’ and ‘concerned’:
5:50 [Parents] ‘…and focus on the things they are able to do to protect their children.’
These things include [5:54]:
‘…keeping them [children] away from close contact with others with whom they’re not living,
…wearing masks, and when out being around people who are wearing masks,
and keeping surfaces clean, so-called ‘high contact surfaces’ like door knobs, counters, things like that where people touch a lot.’
As far as I can see, none of those suggestions is compatible with sending kids back to school.
When class sizes can be up to 30 children, social distancing is next to impossible.
When kids play, they come into close contact with each other. That’s why head lice can spread so rapidly through the population of a school.
Here in Australia, next to no one wears a mask, least of all our children.
In poorer schools, there may be taps for washing hands, but there is often no soap. Or the soap runs out in the morning and isn’t replaced until the cleaners come in after school. And that’s a best case scenario.
As for keeping close contact surfaces clean…kids touch everything, multiple times a day. Every time they go from one class to the next, in the toilet blocks, in the canteen… Keeping surfaces virus free is a nice concept, but that’s all it is. In practical terms, it cannot be done.
Taking the realities into consideration, Dr Kleinman is actually saying – do NOT send your children back to school. At least until we know more.
6:34 ‘…but we don’t know what the future holds. Every day we learn what we didn’t know the day before.’
And that seems to be the elephant in the Covid-19 room. This virus is so new, we don’t even know what it is that we don’t know. That’s why even the best advice can be outdated mere days after it’s been given.
In the beginning, we were told that children either didn’t get Covid-19 or only contracted a very mild disease. We were also told that ‘there was no evidence’ that children spread the virus [hence schools were ‘safe’].
We now know that children can get Covid-19, and they can get it without symptoms. That means they can spread it to other children and other members of their families. We are also learning that Covid-19 may trigger a delayed reaction in [some] children whereby their immune systems go haywire.
What we don’t know is why these children have this delayed reaction.
Is the connection to Covid-19 simply a coincidence?
Or are these children at special risk somehow?
And if they are, what is that special risk?
Will it strike more children as the pandemic continues?
To me, all these unknowns lead to just one question: is this a risk we really want to take with our children?
And this brings me to a special plea to the Premier of my state, Daniel Andrews:
Please, change your mind and keep schools closed until the start of Term 3.
It’s not that far off, but the delay could end up saving the lives of our children. Please don’t let the political animals in Canberra railroad you into going against your gut instincts. You have been right all along.
Sending kids back to school before we know how serious this Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome is, and how it links to Covid-19 is a massive risk. What are the benefits other than freeing parents up to work ‘for the economy’?
Most rational people in Victoria agree with your cautious approach. Don’t stop now. Please.