At the end of April, the SKWAWKBOX revealed an urgent NHS alert to front-line medical staff warning them to be on the look-out for a worrying and potentially lethal ‘toxic shock’ syndrome in children, similar to Kawasaki disease but linked to the coronavirus, known by the shorthand ‘PMIS’ (paediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome). The disease results in severe inflammation of the circulatory system including the heart and at least three children have died. Its visible symptoms include fever, rash and abdominal pain.
The PMIS syndrome, first discovered in London, has since appeared in the US and five other countries, with the US seeing more than 130 cases so far. It affects children of all ages and all ethnicities – and Italian research suggests that it hits around one in a thousand children infected with the virus.
But the UK has a problem.
In the UK, children are said to represent around 2% of the confirmed ‘C-positive’ population of over 236,000 (as of Worldometer data at the time of writing). Put simply, that means fewer than 5,000 children confirmed with the virus.
But that means that at the rate of one child per thousand, the UK should have five cases of the PMIS syndrome.
And it already has more than one hundred, in just the two weeks or so since coronavirus-linked PMIS was discovered.
There are two possible explanations:
- either the incidence of PMIS among infected children is far higher than 1:1000, or
- UK coronavirus Infections among children are 20 times higher than the Italian data have led authorities to conclude
The most likely option is probably a combination of both factors, especially given the UK government’s appalling record on testing – but part of that equation is then that progression to PMIS is much higher than thought, as well as far more children being infected with the virus.
Whichever particular combination it is, it is one more reason that any decision to send children back to school before the specific circumstances, mechanism and risks are fully understood is an unforgivable gamble with our children’s lives and the lives of the people with whom they come into contact.
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