The risks of vaccinating young children against COVID outweigh the benefits, according to the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

“With the knowledge we have today, with a low risk for serious disease for kids, we don’t see any clear benefit with vaccinating them,” Health Agency official Britta Bjorkholm told a news conference on Thursday.

Risk of Vaccine Injury Exceeds Benefits for Children

Vaccinating children against COVID has been a controversial subject since the onset of the pandemic. Studies have shown children are far less susceptible to infection or serious illness from COVID than older people, with increased age closely correlated to bad outcomes.

While young children have shown resilience to natural COVID infection, adverse events during clinical trials of mRNA-based COVID vaccines and real-world incidents have called into question the wisdom of vaccinating children. 

Sweden Sees High Case Rates, Low Hospitalization, and Death

Like other nations in Europe, Sweden’s case rates are climbing even as hospitalization and fatalities attributed to COVID infections have remained manageable. Health policy experts say Omicron’s dominance has changed the contours of the pandemic and shifted it to endemic status.

Sweden has taken a more conservative stance on vaccination than many Western nations. For example, in October, the Scandinavian nation joined its neighbor Denmark in pausing the use of the Moderna mRNA-based COVID vaccine for young people citing potential cardiovascular side effects.

Sweden’s Conservative Pandemic Response

Sweden also declined to close all of its schools during the height of the pandemic and resisted the same sweeping lockdowns imposed by other nations including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and Australia.

Sweden reported that only 101 patients with COVID-19 required intensive care on Thursday, a quarter of the amount the nation reported in spring 2021. Nearly 16,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Sweden since the pandemic started.

Sweden’s government on Wednesday extended restrictions, which included limited opening hours for restaurants and an attendance cap for indoor venues, for two weeks but said it hoped to remove them on Feb 9.

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