As the federal government considers approving Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot for children ages 5 to 11, a Harvard University epidemiologist is urging parents not to vaccinate their children.
Dr. Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a biostatistician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in an interview with EpochTV that the risks outweigh any benefit.
“I don’t think children should be vaccinated for COVID,” he said. “I’m a huge fan of vaccinating children for measles, for mumps, for polio, for rotavirus, and many other diseases, that’s critical. But COVID is not a huge threat to children,” he said on the channel’s “American Thought Leaders” program.
“They can be infected, just like they can get the common cold, but they’re not a big threat. They don’t die from this, except in very rare circumstances. So if you want to talk about protecting children or keeping children safe, I think we can talk about traffic accidents, for example, which they are really at some risk.”
Kulldorf, who serves on scientific advisory committees to the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said “there are other things that we should make sure [of] to keep children safe.”
“But COVID is not a big risk factor for children.”
Kulldorf pointed to CDC data showing that only 195 children under the age of 4, and 442 between 5 and 18, have died from COVID-19 in the United States as of Oct. 20. Further, CDC data show children generally do not spread COVID-19 and have little risk of any adverse effects. The seasonal flu is more deadly among children than COVID-19, and the swine flu one decade ago was six times more deadly.
Dr. Robert Malone, the inventor of the messenger RNA technology in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, concurs with Kulldorf.
“There is absolutely no scientific or medical justification for vaccinating children, in my opinion,” he said recently on Twitter.
Dr. Harvey Risch, a professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine, is advising parents to remove their children from any public school that forces students to get the shots.
Risch said Sunday night in an interview that children with serious chronic conditions “should be considered for vaccination.”
“Other than that, if it were my child, I would homeschool them,” he said.
“Honestly, I would organize with other parents to take them out of the school and create homeschooling environments,” Risch said.
“There’s no choice. Your child’s life is on the line.”
He acknowledged that vaccination “is not a high risk that’s going to kill every child.”
“However, it’s enough of a risk, that on the average the benefit is higher for homeschooling than it is for vaccination and being in school.”
Kulldorf, along with epidemiologists Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford and Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, is a co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration, arguing for public policies that protect the vulnerable while allowing those with little risk to go about their business.
See the interview:
“Hospitals should hire nurses & other staff with natural immunity…They are the ones who are least likely to infect the residents. [Yet] we’re doing the opposite. They’re being fired.”
Deep-dive w/ Harvard epidemiologist @MartinKulldorff
— Jan Jekielek (@JanJekielek) October 26, 2021
Sweden: No shots, masks, distancing for kids
Kulldorf pointed out that in his native Sweden, day care and schools have been kept open during the pandemic for children ages 1 to 15.
In the Nordic nation there were 1.8 million such children “who got through the first wave without vaccines, of course, without masks, without any sort of distancing in schools.”
“If a child was sick, they were told to stay home,” he said. “But that was basically it. And you know how many of those 1.8 million children died from COVID? Zero. Only a few hospitalizations. So this is not a risky disease for children.”
Kulldorf expressed concern about the risk of vaccine side effects, including heart inflammation, which has occurred post-vaccination at much higher rates than expected.
Last summer, the FDA added a warning label to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines about the risk of two types of heart inflammation, myocarditis and pericarditis.
Kulldorf said that for older people, 78-year-olds, for example, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks of an adverse event.
“On the other hand, if you have already have immunity from having had COVID, then the benefits of the vaccines are much, much smaller,” he said.
Others, pointing to CDC estimates, have argued that even for older people, the survival rate from a novel coronavirus infection is extremely high for those who do not have underlying conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. For those under 70, it’s estimated to be as high as 99.5%. For people 70 and older, it’s up to 95%, but much higher for those without comorbidities.
For children, Kulldorf added, “even if you haven’t had COVID, the risk of serious disease or death is minuscule.”
‘A side effect that we can’t measure yet’
The interview with Kulldorf took place before an FDA advisory panel on Wednesday voted 17-0, with one absention, to recommend emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11, despite acknowledging the lack of safety data and a high survival rate from infection (Calculated by the CDC to be as high as 99.998% for those 19 and younger).
Committee member Dr. Eric Rubin, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, expressed the concern of many members about “a side effect that we can’t measure yet,” referring to myocarditis.
But he concluded there was no other way forward, expressing the frustration of many that the committee was given a “binary choice.”
“We’re never going to learn about how safe the vaccine is unless we start giving it,” he said. “That’s just the way it goes.”
Pfizer’s briefing document, issued before the hearing, says on page 10 “the number of participants in the current clinical development program is too small to detect any potential risks of myocarditis associated with vaccination.”
“Long-term safety of COVID-19 vaccine in participants 5 to <12 years of age will be studied in 5 post-authorization safety studies, including a 5-year follow-up study to evaluate long term sequelae of post-vaccination myocarditis/pericarditis.”
Panel members also acknowledged the vaccine does not prevent transmission and wanes in efficacy after only months. And some pointed to data indicating at least 40% of children in the United States have recovered from COVID-19 and have natural immunity.
The committee’s approval sent the matter to CDC vaccine advisers, who will meet Nov. 2-3 to decide whether or not to recommend the EUA to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who has the final say. If she gives the go-ahead, vaccinations of young children could begin as early as next week.
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