Saturday, September 25, 2021

Protecting Children

If you watch mass media and believe what you see, you think the reason to require masks on school children, the reason to vaccinate them, is to protect the children. It’s a lie. Over the entire period of the pandemic fewer than five hundred children under 18 have died in the US, well under one in a hundred thousand of the population — about half as many as died from pneumonia. The IFR, the chance that someone who is infected with Covid will die of it, is about 1/100,000 for ages 5-14, somewhat higher for older teens. The reason to keep children from getting Covid is to protect the adults those children could pass the disease on to. Any  reduction in deaths of the children themselves is a minor side benefit.

But dying children make better news stories, more emotionally moving arguments, than statistics on infection rates.


Anonymous said...

And who is leading this grand conspiracy to decieve the public?

Please say Soros, that would be pretty funny.

David Friedman said...

Nobody is leading it. One reason to write stories that focus on the very rare case of a child dying of Covid is that it makes a better story. One reason is that it supports policies being pushed by the President and his supporters.

The best reason is the reasonable believe that getting kids vaccinated will reduce infections among adults, who are much more at risk, and that the false narrative is more persuasive than the true. I don't think that is a sufficient reason because I think misleading people, even for good reasons, has bad long term effects, but obviously some people disagree. Fauci made it obvious in a NYT interview some time back that what he tells the public is some compromise between what he thinks is true and what he wants the public to believe.

Anonymous said...

The death rate may be low, but that is cherry-picking one statistic to make your point. Surely you would agree that preventing sickness in children is also valuable, I.e. cases that don’t lead to death but significant suffering? There are a number of places that have run out of pediatric ICU beds because of COVID cases, what makes you think that if all children stopped wearing masks that wouldn’t happen more?

I don’t know the relevant numbers to the questions I raised, but maybe it would be more responsible to only start calling something a lie after you have looked into a slightly broader set of objectives?

Anonymous said...

Where are you getting the pneumonia statistic? According to Table 2 in this (, in the US only roughly 250-350 children <15 die from pneumonia per year

David Friedman said...

I got the pneumonia statistic from:

It's in "Table Preview" ages 0-17. Deaths from Covid are 464, from pneumonia 966.

Did I get something wrong?

Anonymous said...

I checked the CDC Wonder tool ( to find the number of <18 pneumonia deaths each year (using ICD codes J12-J18). In 2018 there were 295 deaths and in 2019 there were 272.

The 966 number from your link (from 1/2020 to 9/2021) would imply a rate of roughly 550 deaths per year... Not sure the reason for the discrepancy. Maybe some of the covid deaths are being double-counted?

SB said...

We do need to consider negative outcomes other than death.

For example, at least a year ago a nasty and extremely painful multiple-organ syndrome, "multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)", was identified that appeared in children (not adults) who had been exposed to COVID but showed few or no typical COVID symptoms. I haven't heard much about it in recent months, but it's still mentioned on the Mayo Clinic's web page on juvenile COVID, and the CDC has a page about it too. It's still sorta mysterious

And of course, if ordinary COVID causes lasting organ damage, the cost of that is obviously greater for somebody with a pre-COVID life expectancy of 70 years than for somebody with a life expectancy of 20 years.

Average Radical said...

I don't have a citation handy, but my memory is that there was a study in Sweden comparing COVID rates between school teachers (Sweden never mandated masks in schools as far as I understand, nor ever closed schools) and other occupations, and there was no statistically significant difference.