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The Market for Scary Covid Fiction Must be Huge

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:


Leana Wen continues to stoke excessive fear of Covid by making false claims (“Coronavirus vaccinations for young children should be an urgent priority,” June 16). An example is her assertion that “Covid-19 is now one of the leading causes of death among children.”

Is it? By her own admission a few weeks ago, the number of children in the U.S. so far who have died from Covid is “just more than 300.” Yet a quick check of data compiled by the CDC on the ten leading causes of death, in 2019, in America of people under the age of 15 reveals that the number of children whose lives were taken by these causes was 20,660. Of this figure, the number of children killed since 2019 by Covid is a mere 1.6 percent.

Drilling down into these CDC data shows that in 2019 the number of children killed by unintentional injuries alone was, at 3,907, more than ten times greater than is the number of children killed over the past 16 months by Covid. Malignant neoplasms – cancerous tumors – took the lives of another 1,060 children. An additional 630 childhood deaths were homicides, and 534 were suicides.

Slice, dice, and stir the data however you like, they simply cannot reasonably be rendered consistent with the assertion that Covid is “now one of the leading causes of death among children.” But Dr. Wen’s persistence in peddling this myth of Covid’s danger to children does render her guilty of journalistic malpractice.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030


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