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Covid Poses No Significant Risks to Children

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


Unhappy that Jay Bhattacharya explained that covid’s risk to children is minuscule, Jeremy Faust writes “CDC surveillance indicates that Covid-19 has caused substantially higher hospitalizations and deaths in children than seasonal influenza usually does” (Letters, June 14). While true, neither this fact nor any of the other points raised by Dr. Faust weakens Dr. Bhattacharya’s argument that the risk posed by covid to children is far lower than ordinary Americans likely infer from public-health authorities’ context-free warnings.

Here’s some context. According to the CDC the total number of Americans younger than 18 killed by covid since early 2020 is 1,086. If we start our count with March 2020, that’s 40.2 covid deaths of children per month. Compare this figure to the number of young Americans who die each month from other causes. In 2020, the number of children younger than 15 who died each month, on average, of congenital anomalies was 396 – a number nearly ten times higher than covid’s monthly death toll for all children (that is, for all persons younger than 18). Similarly, the number of children younger than 15 who in 2020 died each month, on average, of unintentional injuries was, at 326, eight times higher than covid’s monthly toll for children younger than 18. Cancerous tumors killed each month at least another 92 children. And at least another 50 children, younger than 15, died each month from either heart disease, flu, or cerebrovascular complications.*

When these figures are combined with the fact that children’s overall rate of death is very low – approximately 0.045 percent of persons younger than 18 die each year** – Dr. Bhattacharya is both correct and wise to decry public-health authorities’ insistence on stoking fears that children are at high risk from covid.

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

* Calculated from this CDC page. (If the link doesn’t open, see this screenshot of the page.)

** Calculated from data available here, in which I divided by 29 (months) the figure, 81,532, for “Death from All Causes” of persons 0-17 from January 2020 through May 2022 to arrive at an annual number of deaths today in America of persons 0-17 of 33,732. (81,532/29 = 2,811 x 12 = 33,732.) According to the Census Bureau, the percentage of Americans under the age of 18 is 22.3 – meaning the number of such persons in the U.S. today is about 74,310,290. 33,732 is 0.045 percent of 74,310,290.