PUSHING back Western Australia’s opening date by “weeks or months” is well worth it to “protect children from COVID-19,” claims Mark Duncan-Smith. The WA president of fringe doctors’ union, the AMA, Dr Duncan-Smith was in the news in October when he accused the unvaccinated of being “pro disease.” Now he wants the state to stay closed for business until 90 per cent of the population aged over five is fully ‘vaccinated.’ Because covid is preponderantly harmless to children, Duncan-Smith had to get creative to drum up a fresh scare:
“It is affecting the paediatric group and the NHS in the UK has recorded 7.4 per cent rate of long COVID.
“This is why we need to vaccinate the kids, and if it does mean pushing back the date by a couple of weeks then I think all West Australians, especially the ones with children, are going to be happy to do that to see the children protected better.”
The NHS has “recorded” nothing of the sort. I recognised the figure from some reading I did for a post on ‘long covid’ at Old Catallaxy some months ago. It was a percentage generated by the UK’s Office of National Statistics based on a self-reporting survey whose June data set is now irrelevant. The bogus claim was first made by Duncan-Smith two weeks ago at a press conference (transcript) in which he compounded one falsehood with two others:
A five-year-old in Victoria unfortunately and tragically died this week from COVID, and people need to be aware that although the death rate is low in children, there is a high or significant incidence of long COVID in children. In Australia it’s reported it being potentially around the 2 to 3 per cent mark, but the NHS, which has a much greater experience with long COVID in the paediatric group reports 7.4 per cent of children get long COVID.
Now put that in perspective. That’s potentially 35,000 cases of long COVID in children if they’re not vaccinated. We just need to keep this in mind.
First, the five year-old in Victoria did not die from covid. For a medico to misstate a child’s cause of a death to alarm the public is disgraceful. Second, the ONS survey Duncan-Smith misidentifies did not prove that vaccinated children are protected from long symptoms if they contract covid. That’s because there were no vaccinated children in the survey group. Not one. This birdbrained analysis was shopped successfully to the WA News in addition to the ABC. The latest surveys – and surveys of surveys – on so-called long covid show it is minimally problematic in children. Duncan-Smith’s press conference assertion that “there is a high or significant incidence of long COVID in children” is false. There have been three flaws in studies on this supposed illness: 1) response rates so low as to be unreliable and biased; 2) tick-a-box ‘symptoms’ indistinguishable from the normal physical ups and downs over the course of a survey period; 3) not accounting for the psychological damage caused by scaremongers:
Most likely to report persistent symptoms were older girls who already had poorer physical and mental health.
Those struggling emotionally and mentally could be more attuned to even minor physical illnesses, the researchers said, and a positive coronavirus test could help trigger that.
Of all the children in the study, 40% reported feeling sad, worried or unhappy. And the researchers said it was clear the pandemic had had a damaging effect on young people because of: the closure of schools, not seeing their friends, concern about the risk from the virus.
Parents who want their children calm and healthy will achieve those ends more readily by keeping them away from hysterical fruitcakes on television than they will with a covid vaccine.