A study on coronavirus transmission in 100 U.K. schools, described as one of the world’s largest, will confirm that there is “very little evidence” the disease is spreading in those institutions, a leading scientist reportedly proclaimed recently.
Over the weekend, the Sunday Times quoted Professor Russell Viner, the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a member of a government advisory group, as saying:
A new study that has been done in U.K. schools confirms there is very little evidence that the virus is transmitted in schools. This is 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.
The comments from Viner, who supports the reopening of schools, echoed recent remarks made by a top U.S. public health official who said the United States must reopen schools for public health reasons,
Public Health England, a government agency, is conducting the U.K. study, which is to be published later this year. Researchers reportedly tested an estimated 20,000 students and teachers in 100 schools across England to monitor the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) until the end of the summer school session.
Viner asserted that reopening schools is “imperative.”
“He warns that children have lost friendships, missed months of lessons and will suffer long-term social, mental, and academic problems if schools stay closed,” the Times reported. “For teenagers, in particular, being cut off from their peers is bad for their development.”
“It is absolutely essential for schools to reopen in September,” Viner declared. “The risks to children from COVID are very low, and the risks of school closures we know are very serious.”
At the end of July, CDC Chief Redfield said the U.S. must reopen schools K through 12 with in-person learning this fall for public health reasons, such as preventing suicides, drug abuse, and domestic violence.
Last week, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out that the pandemic had triggered the “largest disruption of education ever,” as school closures in more than 160 nations in mid-July are “affecting over one billion students.”
Along with the CDC chief and Viner, Guterres called for the safe reopening of schools, including in-person learning.
According to a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, over 97,000 children tested positive for the coronavirus in the final two weeks of July, as U.S. schools nationwide finalize their reopening plans.
Compared to adults, very few children end up in the hospital, suffer from complications after recuperating, or succumb to the disease, the research showed, similar to the conclusions of other assessments.
For the most part, children generally experience much milder symptoms than adults, if any. The vast majority of kids are asymptomatic, and COVID deaths among children remain rare.
“Based on available evidence, most children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults,” the CDC declared. “While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.”
Some infectious disease experts have noted that people with no symptoms can still spread the disease to more vulnerable segments of the population, particularly older teachers with underlying health conditions.
Meanwhile, others like Dr. Susan Coffin, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), believe that children have deficient concentrations of the virus and “are not capable of transmitting it,” the liberal Huffington Post acknowledged in June.
A few experts, including French epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet, have concluded that children are at least less likely to spread the virus than adults because they do not have many symptoms and do not cough.
Several studies have found “the rate of spread and the rate of positivity for kids was far lower than for adults,” Dr. Sandra Kesh from the Westmed Medical Group, reportedly noted.
Some studies have indicated that asymptomatic “shed [the] virus for a shorter period of time,” Health.com reported in late May.