Childhood Influenza vs. Childhood COVID Putting Schooling During the Pandemic Into Perspective

With most Western nations, particularly the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, wringing their hands about sending children back to school in September, a recent interview with Dr. Robert Redfield, Direct of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is most definitely an eye-opener.

The interview with Dr. Redfield first appeared on The Buck website and was recorded on July 14, 2020.  The Buck is the world's preeminent scientific research institute which is focused on the biology of aging.  Their interest in the COVID-19 pandemic is a result of the fact that the SARS-CoV-2 disproportionately impacts adults over the age of 60.

For the purposes of this posting, I want to look at an excerpt from the interview that is currently on YouTube (until Google decides that the narrative presented during the interview doesn't meet YouTube's community standards for some vague reason).   Here is the key exchange:

Let's look at a transcript of Dr. Redfield's response when he is asked about the risk of opening schools.  Here is a very significant quote from Dr. Redfield's response that is most surprising:

"I think it is important to try to be factual as we go through this.  When we look at right now the mortality of this particular COVID virus in the first almost 218,000 people we looked at February to July there was fifty-two individuals under the age of 18 and if I recollect, about 35 who were actually school-aged.  Some of them were younger than school age.  We're looking critically at those individuals and, you know, clearly, there's an increase in comorbidities related to significant medical conditions that we've already (indistinct).  But, I think that's important because what that means is that, actually, the risk per 100,000 so far into the outbreak, six months into it, is that we're looking about about 0.1 per 100,000.  So, another way to say that is about 1 in a million.  I'm not trying to belittle that, I'm just trying to make sure we look at it proportionately because if you do the same thing for influenza deaths, for school-aged children over the last five years, they're anywhere from five to ten times greater.  So, I want people to understand the risk properly as they make that decision."

If you wish to watch the entire interview on The Buck, please click here.

Here is a graphic showing the COVID-19 hospitalization rate per 100,000 people for various age groups from the CDC:

Here is a graphic showing the COVID-19 provisional death counts by age for the coronavirus:

As you can see, in both cases, school-aged children make up a tiny fraction of the total number of Americans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the CDC's records from February 1 2020 to August 22, 2020, we have the following provisional death counts from COVID-19 with the total deaths from all causes for each age range given in brackets to the week ending August 15, 2020:

Under one year – 17 (118 – 427)

One to four years – 12 (49 to 84)

Five to fourteen years – 28 (49 to 127)

Fourteen to twenty-four years – 279 (387 to 785)

If we look at school-aged children, most of them would fall into the 5 to 18 year-old range.  According to the CDC's records, a total of 65 American children between those ages have died with the provisional cause being COVID-19 between February 1, 2020 and August 22, 2020 as you can see on this table:

Out of the 164,186 Americans that have died (to August 22, 2020) of the COVID-19 virus, 0.0396 percent were children between the ages of 5 and 18.  The deaths from COVID-19 among school-aged children are a tiny fraction of the total number of all-cause deaths, and yet, the mainstream media seems to have completely ignored this fact.  As well, it is important to keep in mind Dr. Redfield's comment that only two of the school-aged children that died had no comorbidities (pre-existing conditions).

For my readers in Canada, here is a graph from Health Canada showing the age and gender distribution of COVID-19 cases that were hospitalized:

Here is a graphic showing the age and gender distribution of those Canadians who died of COVID-19:

As you can see, only 1 Canadian under the age of 20 has died of COVID-19 in Canada and only 149 Canadians in that age range have been hospitalized out of a total of 11,463 hospitalizations.  Unfortunately, the Canadian government does not supply data on comorbidities that have have existed in these patients. 

While we don't have the data on comorbidities, in England and Wales, a total of 15 children between the ages of birth and 20 have died with COVID-19 involvement.

As we can see, government statistics show that school-aged children are at little risk for death from COVID-19.  While some may say that this is because schools have been under lockdown since March, in fact, without a comparator (i.e. a control group) as required in a scientific study, it is just as likely that school-aged children are far less susceptible to dying from the SARS-CoV-2 virus than their older family members. This would suggest that, while caution is necessary, most of the handwringing over the reopening of schools is for naught.  Dr. Redfield's comments about the much higher deadliness of seasonal influenza among school-aged children is what should be of far greater concern to parents and government decision makers and help us put the seriousness of the pandemic into perspective.

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