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Opinion

Too many children are being tested for coronavirus, top paediatrician claims as he demands schools stay fully open in face of future waves of Covid-19 – Daily Mail

Professor Russell Viner, from University College London, demanded schools should instead remain fully open in the face of a second wave and cease their ‘flip-flopping’ between closures and openings which are ‘harming’ the education of youngsters.

He was speaking after his recently published study revealed those under 20 are 44 per cent less likely to be infected with the virus than adults.

…’We need to be thinking: “Are we testing too many children?” because of our understandable but probably unscientific and misplaced concerns about children being infected in schools.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8780333/Too-children-tested-coronavirus-paediatrician-claims.html

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News Opinion

September’s normal increase in coughs and colds is causing ‘utter chaos’ in Britain because the Government has left people terrified of coronavirus, top Oxford scientist warns MPs – Prof. Carl Heneghan, Daily Mail

Professor Carl Heneghan said there has been a 50% rise in coughs and colds

This is normal for September when children go back to school and university

But Government messaging about Covid-19 has left people ‘terrified’, he said

  • A coughing illness would not normally be considered an epidemic until doctors were seeing 400 symptomatic cases per 100,000 – far higher than Covid-19 rates;
  • The Eat Out to Help Out restaurant voucher scheme likely led to an increase in the spread of coronavirus;
  • Increased testing is still only picking up a fraction of the true number of cases but it’s detecting more of ‘background’ infections because it’s more targeted, making it look like cases are soaring;
  • Bolton may be experiencing high infections because the virus was not widespread there before lockdown lifted and people did not build up any immunity;
  • Swab tests are still picking out too many people who aren’t infectious, and studying individuals’ viral loads could help officials to pick out those actually at risk of spreading it;
  • The country cannot test its way out of the outbreak and there must be a coherent strategy for what to do with knowledge of case numbers and a level that is acceptable;
  • Ambiguous phrases such as ‘Moonshot’ are not helpful for communicating the Government’s plans and have no basis in science, which should be paramount.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8744063/Septembers-normal-increase-coughs-colds-causing-utter-chaos-post-lockdown-Britain.html

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News

Anders Tegnell and the Swedish Covid experiment – The Financial Times

As coronavirus cases rise in pretty much all other European countries, leading to fears of a second wave including in the UK, they have been sinking all summer in Sweden. On a per capita basis, they are now 90 per cent below their peak in late June and under Norway’s and Denmark’s for the first time in five months. Tegnell had told me the first time we spoke in the spring that it would be in the autumn when it became more apparent how successful each country had been.

https://www.ft.com/content/5cc92d45-fbdb-43b7-9c66-26501693a371

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News Opinion

Face mask rule for school children imposed ‘without proper research’ professor says – Professor Carl Heneghan, Daily Mail

FORCING school children to wear masks is part of a scattergun approach by a government “lacking the political will” to study the actual evidence, a professor warns.

Dr Carl Heneghan said that the mask doctrine came into place even as the deputy chief medical officer admitted there was no strong evidence they would help with the disease. This was despite the social and psychological damage masking pupils would cause, he said. He pointed out that with drug interventions, high quality testing was required before they were implemented. 

…He said: “Wearing masks can interfere with social wellbeing. We clearly understand with drugs the need to do proper research on the benefits against the harms before we use them.

This is a huge intervention to impose on society with many unknowns and potentially damaging consequences, but we are not doing the research to justify it.”

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News

Primary schools ‘no greater risk than home’ for pupils and staff – BBC

Attending primary school puts children and staff at no greater risk of contracting coronavirus than staying at home, a study of 131 schools suggests…

…A separate sample of 2,100 staff and children, who were tested for antibodies, found 10.6% of pupils and 12.7% of staff had previously had coronavirus.

This could suggest that children are as likely as adults to be infected, rather than being less susceptible to the disease.

But because so few positive cases in children are detected, it confirms previous research that they are likely to experience mild symptoms, or none at all.

The study found children and staff who attended school more frequently were no more likely to test positive for antibodies than those who did not attend school, or went less often.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54025708

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News Opinion

The Case Against Covid Tests for the Young and Healthy – Wall Street Journal

There is little purpose in using tests to check asymptomatic children to see if it is safe for them to come to school. When children are infected, most are asymptomatic, and the mortality risk is lower than for the flu. While adult-to-adult and adult-to-child transmission is common, child-to-adult transmission isn’t. Children thus pose minimal risk to their teachers. If a child has a cough, a runny nose or other respiratory symptoms, he should stay home. You don’t need a test for that.

Sweden was the only major Western country that kept schools open for kids 15 and younger throughout the pandemic, with no masks or mass testing. How did it turn out? Zero Covid-19 deaths among 1.8 million children attending day care or school. Teachers didn’t have an excess infection risk compared with the average of other professions.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-case-against-covid-tests-for-the-young-and-healthy-11599151722

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News

Now Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries says the evidence that masks stop the spread of coronavirus is ‘not very strong in either direction’ – Daily Mail

The evidence on face coverings ‘is not very strong in either direction’, England’s deputy chief medical officer has said, leaving Britons confused once again over experts’ changing attitudes to masks.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8676535/Jenny-Harries-says-face-coverings-evidence-not-strong.html

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News Opinion

Children could spread COVID19 more if they wear masks – Professor Russell Viner, BBC Newsnight

According to professor Russell Viner, President of Royal College of Paediatrics and SAGE member:

  • There’s very little evidence for the use of masks in schools.
  • Children could potentially spread the virus more if they wear masks
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News Opinion

UK lockdown was a ‘monumental mistake’ and must not happen again – The Express

LOCKDOWN will come to be seen as a “monumental mistake on a global scale” and must never happen again, a scientist who advises the Government on infectious diseases says.

Mark Woolhouse said lockdown was a “panic measure” but admitted it was the only option at the time because “we couldn’t think of anything better to do”.

But it is a crude measure that takes no accounts of the risk levels to different individuals, the University of Edinburgh professor said, meaning that back in March the nation was “concentrating on schools when we should have been concentrating on care homes”.

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/1320428/Coronavirus-news-lockdown-mistake-second-wave-Boris-Johnson

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News

Pupils pose no risk of spreading Covid – Professor Russell Viner, The Sunday Times

One of the largest studies in the world on coronavirus in schools, carried out in 100 institutions in the UK, will confirm that “there is very little evidence that the virus is transmitted” there, according to a leading scientist.

Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a member of the government advisory group Sage, said: “A new study that has been done in UK schools confirms there is very little evidence that the virus is transmitted in schools.

“This is the some of the largest data you will find on schools anywhere. Britain has done very well in terms of thinking of collecting data in schools.”

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pupils-pose-no-risk-of-spreading-covid-27q6zfd9l

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News

No known case of teacher catching coronavirus from pupils, says scientist – The Times

There has been no recorded case of a teacher catching the coronavirus from a pupil anywhere in the world, according to one of the government’s leading scientific advisers.

Mark Woolhouse, a leading epidemiologist and member of the government’s Sage committee, told The Times that it may have been a mistake to close schools in March given the limited role children play in spreading the virus.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/no-known-case-of-teacher-catching-coronavirus-from-pupils-says-scientist-3zk5g2x6z

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News

Keeping schools open had no impact on contagion, Swedish study suggests – The Telegraph

Shutting down primary schools may have been unnecessary as a Swedish study suggests that keeping them open had no impact on contagion.

There was no measurable difference in the number of coronavirus cases among children in Sweden, where schools were left open, compared with neighboring Finland, where schools were shut, the research showed.

A working paper, published by the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, compares the two countries’ approach to education during the pandemic.

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News

Coronavirus: Under-20s half as likely to catch COVID-19, according to study – Sky News

Researchers found school closures had little effect on preventing coronavirus transmission compared to that of the flu.

Under-20s are half as likely to catch COVID-19 as over-20s, making school closures less effective at stopping the spread of the virus, a new scientific study has found.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that susceptibility to the coronavirus was low for younger people, before increasing around the age of 20.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-under-20s-half-as-likely-to-catch-covid-19-says-study-12007936

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News

School age children more likely to be hit by lightning than die of coronavirus, analysis finds – The Telegraph

School children under the age of 15 are more likely to be hit by lightning than die from coronavirus, new figures suggest, amid mounting pressure for the government to get more to get pupils back into classrooms as quickly as possible.

Scientists from the universities of Cambridge and Oxford have called for “rational debate” based on the “tiny” risk to children and have suggested that if no vaccine is found in the future then it may be better for younger people to continue with their lives, while shielding the more vulnerable.

It comes as the government was accused of “losing the plot” after Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, scrapped the Government’s target of getting all primary school pupils back in the classroom before the summer holidays

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News

Three mothers are considering launching legal battle with Government claiming school closures during coronavirus crisis may have breached their children’s human rights – Daily Mail

Three mothers are considering suing the Government over school closures – amid claims they may have breached children’s human rights and pupil’s are being ‘treated like they’re germs’. 

The women have also written to the Secretary of State Gavin Williamson to ask whether the ‘long term physical and mental welfare’ of pupils has been considered, and to raise concerns about social distancing.

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News

Teaching unions are working against the interests of children, says Blunkett – The Times

Teaching unions are working against the interests of children in opposing plans to reopen schools, Lord Blunkett said today.

The former education secretary said that he was “deeply critical” of the approach of teaching unions towards attempts to open schools in England on June 1, for children in reception, year 1 and year 6.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/teaching-unions-are-working-against-the-interests-of-children-says-blunkett-mwrv5vws0

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Publications

Children are not COVID-19 super spreaders: time to go back to school – BMJ

At the current time, children do not appear to be super spreaders. Sero-surveillance data will not be available to confirm or refute these findings prior to the urgent policy decisions that need to be taken in the next few weeks such as how and when to re-open schools. Policies for non-pharmacological interventions involving children are going to have to be made on a risk–benefit basis with current evidence available.

https://adc.bmj.com/content/early/2020/05/05/archdischild-2020-319474

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News Publications

UCL: closing schools does not help control COVID-19 epidemic

School closure and management practices during coronavirus outbreaks including COVID-19: a rapid systematic review:

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4642(20)30095-X/fulltext

Summary from BBC News:

  • While school closures help during influenza outbreaks, the same may not apply to coronavirus
  • Data from the Sars outbreak (in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore) suggest that school closures did not contribute to the control of the epidemic
  • Recent modelling studies of Covid-19 predict that school closures alone would prevent only 2%-4% of deaths, many fewer than other social distancing interventions