James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Expert's stark warning about the impact of re-opening schools too early
30 April 2020, 15:01
An expert in the effect of epidemics on children told LBC that if schools are re-opened too soon, it could lead to a number of them dying from Covid-19.
Professor Joy Lawn is from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and she told Shelagh Fogarty that, while the risk in children is low, that still means up to 800 could die if they are exposed to coronavirus.
She said: "What we're sure about is that when children get it, they are less likely to have this condition seriously.
"But importantly, even if the risk of children being affected seriously is low, we've got lots of kids - in the UK we have about 13.5million children and young people - so even if the risk is low, applying that risk to a big population means that unfortunately we're going to see deaths among children.
"From the best estimates we have, the mortality risk on children is very small. It's 0.006%.
"At the moment, because of lockdown, we've managed to keep our risk of infection down.
"But if the risk of infection increases, for example after lockdown and when schools open again, if every child in the UK was to be exposed, that's 13.5million. If you apply that very tiny risk, you would still see around 800 deaths."
Shelagh said that fact must surely end the idea of children going back to school early, but Professor Lawn insisted there are other elements to consider.
"There's also a balance. We're obviously really trying to affect the direct effect of this infection. But also there are huge consequences of being out of school.
"Being at home, missing routine immunisation care, late detection of cancers both for children and the whole population.
"It's a balance of risks - their health, but also for mental health and well-being."