By Professor Jem Bendell, Strategist & educator on social change, focused on Deep Adaptation to societal breakdown
Some countries recently stopped administering Covid vaccination to children. Sweden ceased recommending it for healthy children under the age of 18. Now Denmark won’t allow children to be jabbed for Covid, and they don’t recommend it either for anyone under 50, unless they are vulnerable.
These countries’ decisions make good sense, for several reasons. First, the disease is not dangerous to healthy children in the short term. For instance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted in August 2022 that only 0.5% of global deaths with a positive Covid test were under 25 years of age. Second, although long Covid is a significant and growing concern, a large study found that the vaccines were only about 15% effective at preventing that condition. It means we urgently need to explore other ways of combatting long Covid, whereas a simplistic focus on vaccines would undermine that.
A third reason for not vaccinating children for Covid is because that vaccination doesn’t significantly slow or stop infection and transmission. That matters if a vaccination programme is aimed at stopping children passing on a disease which does not harm themselves. A team from Imperial College London published their findings in The Lancet early in 2022, which showed that the impact of vaccination on community transmission of variants of SARS-CoV-2 appeared to be not significantly different from among unvaccinated people. Reviewing a range of studies, infectious disease specialist Dr. Franco-Paredes wrote in the same medical journal that because transmissibility is not reduced by vaccination a range of policy ideas should now be rethought.
A fourth reason for changing tack on child vaccination is the risk of significant side effects. That is why a team of top scientists recently wrote in the peer-reviewed journal European Society of Medicine that for “young healthy adults, some of the risks and disadvantages afforded by [Covid] vaccination prevail over the medical benefit..” They reached their conclusion even before new official data on adverse reactions. Alarmingly, a court case revealed in early October 2022 that the US government had kept private the data informing itself that about 800,000 citizens needed medical attention after their Covid jabs.
Taken together, this data and research is confirming the concerns expressed by some top scientists since the earliest phases of the pandemic and has been leading some high-profile champions of Covid vaccination to change their stance. That includes one British doctor publishing a peer reviewed study arguing that the risk-reward benefit is not good enough for anyone but the elderly or vulnerable.
For all these reasons, Sweden, Denmark and the other countries that are stopping child vaccination for Covid, are making reasonable decisions on both public health grounds and the rights and protection of children. As I am British, what happens in the UK catches my attention. Last week I heard from a friend that a school in Cumbria is wanting to vaccinate her young children. As I know the latest science, I wondered how could a still-novel medical procedure, without health benefit for the child, and now a known risk of short-term injury, yet with no long-term health information (either positive or negative), still be offered through schools in the UK? How could this not be regarded as a classic case of ‘going too far’ with a limited tool of diminishing effectiveness? How could individual officials, themselves with children, not recognise how the latest science demonstrates that such a policy might harm some children for no benefit to others? Might they also sense the potential damage to trust in health authorities and medical services from continuing with something that the available science no longer supports?