Are you showing symptoms of COVID-19? If not, getting tested can make things worse for everyone.
Professors at Harvard Medical School and Stanford Medical School are warning policymakers to stop the incessant testing of people with no symptoms – a position recently endorsed by the CDC – and especially to let K-12 schools and colleges reopen more or less normally.
Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff (above) write in The Wall Street Journal that children and young adults face far greater threats from being shut out of in-person education than from COVID, while the risk to teachers is either far overblown or can be mitigated with one-way virtual instruction or grading.
“Anyone can be infected with the virus, but there is a thousandfold difference in the risk of death between the young and the old,” they write. “Testing strategy should reflect that”:
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.
What would routine Covid-19 testing of children accomplish? A child with no symptoms who tests positive would be sent home and deprived of an education. Enough asymptomatic cases would lead to school closures. Yet the public-health consensus is that classroom learning is important, and closures are highly detrimental.
They scold the well-off elites who ignore “working-class children, whose parents can’t afford tutors or learning ‘pods,’ but must instead make difficult choices between supervising their children’s education and paying the bills.”
School reopenings abroad – even in Sweden, the bane of Western elites – show that letting children back in the classroom isn’t a threat to either children or teachers. Bhattacharya and Kulldorff theorize that an outbreak in Israel – which produced no hospitalizations, much less deaths – was likely the result of “community transmission rather than opening classrooms.”
Echoing the warnings of elite-sainted Anthony Fauci, the professors urge colleges not to send students home when some of them inevitably test positive, since they are more likely to infect higher-risk parents and neighbors. Wide-scale testing of students also creates “panic and pressure[s] universities to close, with concomitant educational, economic and psychological harms.”
Without laying blame at the foot of the mainstream media, as they should, Bhattacharya and Kulldorff denounce the conflation of “school outbreak[s]” with positive test results for the novel coronavirus, which says nothing about the prevalence of “significant illnesses.”
Testing should have never been spread across the entire society instead of narrowly targeted at hospital workers and elderly people, they say:
Many countries have made the mistake of closing schools to protect low-risk children and teachers while neglecting the protection of those at high risk, especially in nursing homes. With the new CDC guidelines, strategic age-targeted viral testing will protect older people from deadly Covid-19 exposure and children and young adults from needless school closures.