Does opening schools increase the spread of COVID? By Dr Elizabeth Hughes MD
[NOTE: Much of the data is US based]
With much debate and controversy surrounding first the closing, and then the re-opening, of schools, I decided to dig deep into the data and try to present you with the facts so that you can decide for yourself whether or not schools should open as usual.
First of all, let's take a look at the relevant statistics.
***Status of various countries and dates of re-opening – Department of Global Health – University of Washington:***
- Belgium Open (localized) May 18
- Denmark Open April 15
- France Open May 11
- Germany Open (localized) May 4
- Greece Open (localized) June 1
- Israel Open March 12
- South Korea Open March 2
- New Zealand Open May 14
- Norway Open April 19
- Scotland Closed to open August 11
- Sweden Open never closed
- Switzerland Open May 11
- Taiwan Open February 25
- Vietnam Open May 18
- England Open June 1
***Status of risk to children***
- 40 - the number of children under the age of 15 that have died from COVID in the United States.
- 190 - the number of children who die of flu in a typical year.
- 430 - the number of children who die by suicide in a typical year.
- 625 - the number of children who die by homicide in a typical year.
- 4200 - the number of children who die in accidents each year.
- 2 - the number of children who have died of COVID in Chicago this year.
- 2 - the number of children who die of gunshot wounds in a typical weekend in Chicago.
This means the risk from COVID for children returning to school is statistically zero.
The American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that the known risk to children for accidents, delay of other medical needs, eyeglasses, hearing devices, protection from abuse, and loss of schooling are large.
***Status of risk to teachers***
- 25 percent of all teachers in the United States are under age 30.
- 50 percent of all teachers are under age 40.
- 80 percent of all teachers are under age 55.
- 91 percent of all teachers are under age 60.
- 96 percent of all teachers are under age 65
According to SAGE (England's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts), the government's medical advisory body this week:
***"There has been no recorded case of a teacher catching COVID from a pupil anywhere in the world",*** said Mark Woolhouse, chairman of infectious disease epidemiology at Edinburgh University.
Accordingly, there are no recorded cases of a teacher catching COVID from a pupil in the United States.
The CFR (Case Fatality Rate) is the percentage of persons known have COVID that die. For all persons in the US, this rate is around 4%. Under age 55, about 0.5%. For persons who are under the of age 55 and are neither obese nor diabetic, about 0.2% (all these figures are at time of writing).
A recent study in JAMA based on serological testing showed that the number of Covid-19 cases are likely six to 24 times the number reported. This would infer an infection fatality rate (IFR – the ratio of deaths to all infections known or unknown) of between 0.15% and 0.6% for all persons.
This estimate is confirmed by Oxford’s Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, predicting an IFR for Covid-19 between 0.1% and 0.41%.
The nine-year average IFR for seasonal flu in the U.S. is 0.13%, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. In other words, for the population as a whole, the infection fatality rate for COVID is higher than for seasonal flu but similar.
For persons under age 55, the IFR rate range is 0.02% to 0.08%. For persons under age 55 who are neither obese nor diabetic, the IFR range is 0.008% to 0.03%.
80% of all teachers are under age 55. The median retirement age for a teacher in the state of Washington in the U.S, for example, is 59.5 years. The probability of a non-obese, not-diabetic teacher under age 55 dying from COVID from any source is roughly equal to the risk of dying from flu.
Since there are no recorded cases of transmission from a student to a teacher worldwide, it is likely the probability is even lower.
- The risk to students is statistically zero.
- There are no recorded cases of student to teacher transmission worldwide.
- The risk to teachers under age 55 who are not diabetic or obese from any source is very small.
- While the risk due to COVID is not zero, we do not close schools for the IFR risk level of flu or the IFR level of driving to school. There is no reason to do so for COVID.
Additional studies on transmission of Coronavirus by school children
New South Wales, Australia: https://www.documentcloud.org/...
Commentary in Journal Pediatrics, July 2020: https://pediatrics.aappublicat...
https:// policies from the National Institute for Public Health and theEnvironment of The Netherlands (as of 7/2/2020):<>
national institute for Public Health and the environment of the Netherlands
Metanalysis based SARS outbreak in 2003 and on 2020 data from China and Taiwan