Yesterday BBC Radio 5 interviewed a health practitioner who highlighted the dangers posed by Covid-19 to the long-term health of all, even to children, who as we know actually have a very low mortality rate with regard to the virus. The Daily Telegraph (December 1) immediately published an article based on this interview which has been now been erased from their web site with no explanation given. The article began:
“Medics are starting to see “whole wards of children” suffering from Covid for the first time during the pandemic, a senior nurse has warned. Laura Duffell, a matron at King’s College Hospital, London, said the new strain of Covid was affecting children and younger adults with no underlying health conditions in worrying numbers.
“She said: ‘It’s very different. That’s what makes it so much scarier for us as doctors, nurses and porters and everyone else who is working on the front line. We have children who are coming in. It was minimally affecting children in the first wave… we now have a whole ward of children here and I know that some of my colleagues are in the same position, where they have a whole ward of children with Covid.’
“Ms Duffel, a Royal College of Nursing branch official, described a picture of NHS hospitals close to buckling under the strain of rising numbers of Covid patients. She told Radio 5 Live on Friday: ‘20 to 30 year olds with no underlying conditions are coming in. In intensive care you could have up to two or three very sick ventilated patients at the moment, which is far beyond what you should have. Some of my colleagues across London have been looking after up to 15 adults on a Covid ward with one health care assistant supporting them, so you don’t stop.’” (“Covid wards ‘full of children’ for first time in pandemic, warn nurses”)
Shortly after the decision was made to delete this article from their web site the Telegraph then posted another children-related article titled “Teachers demand that all schools stay closed” (January 2) in which the newspaper quoted an outlier scientist who believes that schools should stay open. Misrepresenting this vital issue the Telegraph explained:
“Meanwhile, scientists are divided on the impact of closing schools. Prof Tim Spector, the lead scientist on the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app, said children had been affected ‘the least of all age groups’ despite rising cases, adding: ‘So if you want actions based on science, closing schools is a bad idea.’”
Of course, the newspaper made no mention of the fact that this argument is not supported by the data promoted by the rest of the scientific community, including not least SAGE and the Office for National Statistics (see “The science of school closures”). What the newspaper deliberately failed to highlight was that Professor Spector was only referring to the data presented within his own unique study which it turns out was based upon an unrepresentative population of just symptomatic individuals!
This major shortcoming has since been corrected by Dr Deepti Gurdasani who clearly states: “This is incorrect. Zoe is a *symptom* based tracker and will hugely underestimate infection in children. The ONS data shows highest prevalence in secondary schools followed by young adults & primary schools.” (December 30)