By Arjun Walia
What Happened: A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Open Schools, Covid-19, and Child and Teacher Morbidity in Sweden” has found that “Despite Sweden’s having kept schools and preschools open, we found a low incidence of severe Covid-19 among schoolchildren and children of preschool age during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic…No child with Covid-19 died…Among the 1,951,905 million children who were 1 to 16 years of age, 15 children had Covid-19, MIS-C, or both conditions and were admitted to an ICU, which is equal to 1 child in 130,000.”
Sweden was one of the few countries that decided to keep schools open. The study points out that the number of deaths from any cause among the 1,951,905 children in Sweden (as of December 31, 2019) who were 1 to 16 years of age was 65 during the pre-Covid-19 period of November 2019 through February of 2020 was 65, and 69 during 4 months of exposure to Covid-19 between March and June of 2020. The data shows that there was no significant difference here.
When it comes to teachers, the study showed that “fewer than 10 preschool teachers and 20 schoolteachers in Sweden received intensive care for Covid-19 up until June 30, 2020 (20 per 103,596 schoolteachers, which is equal to 19 per 100,000). As compared with other occupations (excluding health care workers), this corresponded to sex- and age-adjusted relative risks of 1.10 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.49 to 2.49) among preschool teachers and 0.43 (95% CI, 0.28 to 0.68) among schoolteachers (see the Supplementary Appendix).
In a Karolinska Institute press release, lead author and pediatrician Jonas Ludvigsson, MD, PhD, indicated he was hopeful about the results. “It is very gratifying that serious COVID-19, defined here as needing treatment in an intensive care unit, is so rare among children despite schools being open during the pandemic,” he said.
“The next step will be to follow up the children who were treated in an intensive care unit for COVID-19 to see if they have recovered fully. My gut feeling is that children who have been seriously ill because of MIS-C seem to recover fully eventually.”
The point is, children are not being admitted to the ICU in Sweden for C0ovid-19, and children are not dying from Covid-19. Severe Covid-19 among children seems to be rare, and also has a 100 percent recovery rate. Given the fact that many infections are also asymptomatic, it really has no impact on their life. So, while we continue to hear that cases are soaring, it’s important to ask if this is really a big deal? And why is it that other viruses prior to this one that infect hundreds of millions and kill tens of millions a year were not subjected to the same scrutiny? Is it because authorities are worried that children will be a vector of transmission? Do asymptomatic people spread Covid?
This data also echoes what many doctors and scientists have been expressing regarding the severity of the virus, not just for children but for everybody. For example, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, MD, PhD, from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California recently appeared on a JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) Network conversation alongside Mark Lipsitch, DPhil and Dr. Howard Bauchner, who interviews leading researchers and thinkers in health care about their JAMA articles.