Children and COVID-19

Children are safe from COVID-19 and do not pass it on to relatives, teachers or friends. This short guide highlights the main facts that are backed up by credible mainstream sources.

Note: This page was last updated September 2020. Variants may behave differently but the latest information still shows that the infection fatality rate for COVID-19 is close to seasonal flu.

Table of contents

No risk to children

COVID-19 poses no risk to children, even those in the vulnerable category. A study released 7th July 2021, the most comprehensive yet anywhere in the world, concluded that:

…during the first pandemic year in England, equivalent to an infection fatality rate of 5 per 100,000 and a mortality rate of 2 per million. Most had an underlying comorbidity, particularly neurodisability and life-limiting conditions. The CYP who died were mainly >10 years and of Asian and Black ethnicity, compared to other causes of the death, but their absolute risk of death was still extremely low. 

The chart below, using data from the Office for National Statistics, compares the number of deaths from young people in England and Wales in 2003 with COVID-19 in 2020. Although there have been deaths among children, those who died were already seriously ill.

Source: @theblogmire, 1 September 2020

England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jenny Harries, says that children are at more risk from flu or car accidents. Statistically speaking, they have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than dying of COVID-19.

Dr. Jenny Harries on Sky News, Aug 24, 2020. (Video opens in new tab.)

Children do not pass on COVID-19

Evidence shows that children are not super spreaders or even a vector of transmission. Schools in Sweden were kept open for children 15 and younger and did not enforce masks or mass testing. It has had zero COVID-19 deaths among 1.8 million children and teachers didn’t have an excess infection risk.

A study of 100 institutions in the UK, one of the largest studies in the world on coronavirus in schools, has shown similar results. Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said:

“A new study that has been done in UK schools confirms there is very little evidence that the virus is transmitted in schools.”

According to leading epidemiologist and SAGE member Mark Woolhouse, there has been no recorded case of a teacher catching the coronavirus from a pupil anywhere in the world. He told The Times in July 2020 that it may have been a mistake for the UK to close schools.


It is uncontroversial that all medicines carry the risk of side-effects and as a society, we make a tradeoff between the risk of the disease and the intervention. While many childhood vaccines have undergone the normal regulatory approval process, this is not the case with the new COVID-19 vaccines.

The Green Book is the document for public health professionals on immunisation in the UK. As of 7 May 2021, Chapter 14a on COVID-19 states:

SARS-CoV-2 vaccine trials have only just begun in children and there are, therefore, very limited data on safety and immunogenicity in this group. Children and young people have a very low risk of COVID-19, severe disease or death due to SARS-CoV-2 compared to adults and so COVID-19 vaccines are not routinely recommended for children and young people under 16 years of age.

View our guide to COVID-19 vaccination.

Strengthen the immune system

Being ‘too clean’ has long be known to create weaker immune systems. Exposure to germs at a young age helps strengthen a child’s ability to mount a defense against pathogens. Professor Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford, says:

“evidence is mounting that early exposure to these various coronaviruses is what enables people to survive them.”

The measures in place for COVID-19, such as social distancing and frequent use of hand gels may end up making them more susceptible to disease. In fact, while hand hygiene is an important method of protecting against coronaviruses, overuse of gels and disinfectants may also be breeding superbugs.

No masks

There is no strong medical consensus on whether face masks help outside of health care settings. Further, there seems to be growing evidence that wearing masks at best gives a false sense of security and at worst end up making healthy people more susceptible to getting sick. Dr. Jenny Harries, the UK’s deputy chief medical officer, warned that masks could increase risk of infection:

“For the average member of the public walking down a street, it is not a good idea…In fact, you can actually trap the virus in the mask and start breathing it in. Because of these behavioural issues, people can adversely put themselves at more risk than less.”

Professor Russell Viner says that not only is there very little evidence for the use of masks in schools, children could potentially spread the virus if they wear masks. This is because masks are intended to be used for short periods together with other personal protection equipment before disposal.

Professor Russell Viner on BBC Newsnight, 24 August 2020. (Video opens in new tab.)

Children are safe

We collect information for this site from official government data, mainstream news sources and world-renowned experts. Please browse through the articles to reassure yourself that children are safe from COVID-19.