Covid, Covid Vaccines and Children

Editor’s introduction:  It is common to think of children, with their still-developing immune systems (and often poor adherence to basic hygiene practices) of being potentially more vulnerable to infectious diseases than are adults.  However, in the case of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19, concern that children are at risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from this viral infection is almost always misplaced. 

Covid and Children in Sweden

Sweden did not mandate lockdowns and kept both preschools and schools open throughout 2020. Children in Sweden were not required to wear masks. (Physical distancing was encouraged – although I am not sure how well that would work in practice in a preschool or with other young children.)

Despite Swedish schools and preschools remaining open in 2020, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine not one child in Sweden died from Covid-19 – and very few became seriously ill. [1]

The rate of admission to an ICU (intensive care unit) in Sweden for children who suffered from complications from Covid (and/or the condition MIS-C believed to be linked to Covid) was one child in 130,000.  About 1 in 5,000 teachers required treatment in an ICU due to Covid. 

In light of these very low hospitalisation rates in adults as well as children, is interesting to note that some foods in Sweden have vitamin D added to try to ensure that the Swedish population maintains sufficient level of this vitamin when people cannot get enough vitamin D from sunshine (such as during the winter months).  Sufficient levels of vitamin D may have contributed to the low risk of Covid to both children and teachers in Sweden. [2]

 (More information on the Swedish experience with Covid may be found at this link: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2026670 )

Covid and Children in the United States

In the USA, where Covid has been widespread, the risk to children from the virus itself has generally been very low.

‘For children “background risk” of developing serious COVID illness is minuscule, as evidenced by the fact that the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) uses 5-17 year-olds as its “reference group” (the group with the lowest risk) when presenting risks of COVID infection, hospitalization and death for other age groups.

‘There are 74 million children in the U.S. So far, 282 have died from conditions “involving COVID,” producing a mortality rate of 0.00038%. At the May 12 meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), CDC estimated 22.2 million children aged 5-17 had had COVID, and 127 had died – or 0.00057%.

‘As a University of Pennsylvania infectious disease specialist told the New York Times, “For the average kid, Covid is a negligible risk.” [3]

‘By way of comparison, in 2019 (the most recent year for which data are available), 847 children in the 5-14 age group died in car accidents and 233 perished by drowning. In 15-24 year-olds, 2019 witnessed another 6,031 car accident deaths, 415 fatal drownings and 4,346 poisoning deaths.

‘In 2017, drowning deaths claimed nearly 1000 young people under age 20. From February 2020 through mid-February of this year, 5,738 children aged 5-14 and 36,900 adolescents and young adults aged 15-24 died from causes other than COVID-19.

‘In 1- to 17-year-olds, COVID ranks behind nine other causes of death (injury, suicide, cancer, homicide, congenital anomalies, heart disease, influenza, chronic lower respiratory disease and cerebrovascular causes).’ [4]

Risks of Covid Vaccines to Children

‘When announcing the expansion of its Pfizer EUA  [Emergency Use Authorisation] for 12- to 15-year-olds, FDA head Janet Woodcock told parents they “can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data.”

‘However, as of May 7 (that is, just prior to the EUA expansion to younger adolescents), the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) was already showing 694 post-COVID-vaccine adverse events in the 12-17 age group, including 14 rated as “serious” and three deaths.

‘The VAERS data released one week later, on May 14 (just after the 12-15 go-ahead), showed a sharp bump up in COVID-vaccine-related adverse events in the 12-17 age group: 943 total adverse events, including 23 rated as serious and the three deaths.

‘Two of the deaths reported before May 10 were in 15-year-olds, one after receiving the Pfizer vaccine and the other after receiving the Moderna vaccine. These adolescents must have been enrolled in the clinical trials, as their ages would have precluded them getting the vaccines legally under the EUAs [Emergency Use Authorisations] in effect at the time. [Emphasis added] [4]

In addition to the likely death of one of the participants in the clinical trial of the Pfizer vaccine (which gained provisional consent for distribution in NZ for children aged 12-15 years from Medsafe on June 21, 2021) one American family whose daughter was a participant in the Pfizer trial has gone public about her experience of a severely adverse outcome.  Maddie de Garay was a healthy, happy 12 year old who was getting straight As prior to getting a second Pfizer Covid injection as part of the clinical trial of the in 12-15 year olds.  Maddie is now wheelchair-bound, dependent on a feeding tube and has lost control over her bladder. Maddie has also experienced seizures and has cognitive problems.  Maddie and her mother, Stephanie, made a video that describes their ordeal which may be viewed on this link:  https://www.c19vaxreactions.com/real-video-stories.html

‘With about 1,000 children in Pfizer’s clinical trial vaccine group in the 12-15 age group – and probably about the same number in Moderna’s trial – the death rate following either vaccination in this age group (assuming the two teens were trial enrollees) is approximately two in 2,000, or 0.1%.’ [4]

(According to the updated datasheet on Medsafe’s website, 1,131 children aged 12-15 year olds who participated in the clinical trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine received the mRNA injection.  A similar number of 12-15 year old trial participants (1129) received a placebo injection.)

‘Available evidence strongly suggests, therefore, that COVID vaccines are much more dangerous to children than the disease.

‘Across all age groups, VAERS had received reports of almost 228,000 total adverse events between Dec. 14, 2020, and May 14, including more than 4,200 deaths. That this unprecedented trail of destruction was not cause for concern among the FDA and CDC committee members who enthusiastically recommended Pfizer’s experimental vaccine for young people is baffling.’ [4]

Here in NZ, considering the low risk that SARS-CoV-2 infections pose to children and teenagers,  it is difficult to understand why Medsafe would give provisional authorisation for the Pfizer Covid mRNA vaccine to be used in 12-15 year olds when it appears that one of  the 1131 young participants in the clinical trials died and another (Maddie de Garay) has developed disabling medical problems.  

Medsafe’s datasheet for the Pfizer vaccine (marketed as “COMIRNATY” in NZ) makes no mention of risks of severe adverse outcomes (such as disability of death) in 12-15 years olds but does disclose, in relation to this age group, risks of “injection site pain (> 90%), fatigue and headache (> 70%), myalgia and chills (> 40%), arthralgia and fever (> 20%).”

END NOTE: Is the Pfizer Covid vaccine really “100% effective” in adolescents?

“Using relative risk calculations, Pfizer declared its injection “100% effective” on the basis of trials with 2,260 younger adolescents. According to the company’s press release, 18 cases of COVID occurred in the placebo group versus zero in the vaccine group. Nowhere does Pfizer spell out that these numbers equate to a reduction in absolute risk of 1.59% (obtained by dividing 18 by the 1,129 teens allocated to the placebo group).

‘Moreover, in the analyses for its clinical trials with adults, Pfizer doctored its results by excluding thousands of participants who had symptoms identical to COVID but not confirmed by PCR testing. Did similar sleight of hand produce the magic “100%” result for adolescents? Access to “full datasets and independent scrutiny and analyses” are needed to answer that question.’ [4]

REFERENCES AND NOTES

[1]  https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2026670

[2] Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with increased risk of bad outcomes from Covid-19 in a number of studies.  The article at the link below discusses some of the research: https://naturalmedicine.net.nz/news/is-vitamin-d-deficiency-the-reason-why-more-people-with-darker-skin-are-dying-from-covid-19/

[3] If you are concerned about a child in your family who has an underlying medical condition that may mean that SARS-CoV-2 may pose a greater risk to him or her than it does to most children, please note that information about treatments for Covid (including protocols for health professionals) may be found at the following website: covid19criticalcare.com/  (The site covers protocols for prevention of Covid-19, as well as for early stage infection as well as serious infections that require treatment in hospital.)

[4] https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/warnings-vaccinating-kids-covid-dangerous-gamble/

[5]  A discussion of how the datasheet for the Pfizer Covid jab (also known as the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA Covid vaccine or it brand name “Comirnaty”) fails to disclose many of the potential risks of this product may be read at this link: https://therealnews.nz/2021/02/14/does-the-nz-datasheet-for-the-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-comirnaty-provide-sufficient-information-to-facilitate-informed-decision-making/ (The article was written PRIOR to the vaccine gaining provisional approval for injection into 12-15 year olds in NZ.)