Children can catch COVID-19. They can also catch the regular flu, Influenza, as well as SARS, MERS, H1N1, and a host of other things. But with COVID-19, children appear to get the disease at a dramatically lower rate than adults, and the vast majority of children who catch it have very mild or even asymptomatic episodes. But when kids miss school, their education suffers in very real, quantifiable ways.
The chief medical officers of the United Kingdom, from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said as much in a rare, joint statement as they pressed the case for sending kids back to school instead of opting for virtual education.
In their statement, the Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) said:
“Very few, if any, children or teenagers will come to long term harm from COVID-19 due solely to attending school. This has to be set against a certainty of long-term harm to many children and young people from not attending school.”
They pointed to increased inequalities, reduced opportunities and could potentially increase physical and mental health issues, compared with a very low rate of severe disease in children, even if they caught COVID-19, and an exceptionally low risk of dying.
The statement continued:
“The percentage of symptomatic cases requiring hospitalisation is estimated to be 0.1% for children aged 0-9 and 0.3% among those aged 10-19, compared to a hospitalisation rate of over 4% in the UK for the general population.”