German study highlights dangers of UK’s rush to send children back to school
Last month, expert virologist Professor Christian Drosten spoke to German radio [watch subtitled video here] to highlight the results of a study of a coronavirus outbreak in a French school. The outbreak saw forty percent of children and staff infected in just a few weeks – and Drosten gave a chilling verdict:
If that’s happening in schools, then you cannot open schools.
Drosten said that further work was needed to confirm that the French school was typical, but the virology institute where he works has now published a report on the scientific analysis he led of coronavirus infections in the German population – and has confirmed his conclusion that a wide-scale return to schools will lead to new spikes in infection.
The research also found that children are at significant risk from the virus, but are likely to be hospitalised later – confirming what has been seen in the worrying new inflammatory
Drosten’s findings have been helpfully summarised on social media by fellow virologist Dr Zoë Hyde:
However, the report’s own wording is also clear:
As pre- or mild-symptomatic behavioural traits are likely virus-independent, the viral load results from the present study cannot be ignored in discussions on potential infectivity. An unlimited re-opening of kindergartens and schools would re-establish behavioural traits that facilitate virus transmission through contact.
And it concludes that any widespread opening of schools should only take place if the government is in a position to test all pupils and staff regularly, whether or not they are showing symptoms, so that the spread of the disease can be identified before it escalates:
Based on the example of influenza, where similar viral loads in children and adults coincide with an increased role of schools and kindergartens for the maintenance of epidemic waves, the unlimited opening of these facilities should be carefully monitored by preemptive diagnostic testing
The significance of the report’s findings are clear: re-opening schools in the UK must be preceded by full-scale, functional capability of regularly testing everyone in the school, or else the return of children to the classroom will drive a new peak.
Since the government is light-years away from even a semblance of such capability, Drosten’s original verdict remains in place:
…you cannot open schools.
But the government is ploughing ahead regardless – and has more than tripled temporary mortuary capacity to 100,000 because it fully expects [video] a second and even worse peak to result from its actions.
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