Monday, June 27, 2022

Lockdown’s impact on young children: a look at the data

Michael Simmons

How much damage did lockdown inflict on children’s development? This could be one of the least-explored scandals in public life given that neither Tory nor Labour (who both backed lockdown) are keen to look at the aftermath. But the Institute for Fiscal Studies is branching out from its normal financial remit and has published a report on early years inequality, and it has found serious grounds for concern.

The report, Early childhood inequalities (part of the Deaton review) looked at educational and developmental inequality in very young children: especially those aged two. This was a demographic that was considered by no one during lockdown, but other literature shows these two years are crucial in a child’s development. What effect might the lockdown have had on these infants?

The IFS gave scores for five ‘domains of development’ for two-year-old children. Falls were particularly steep in social and communication skills, with the proportion of children at the expected level declining by three percentage points during the pandemic. One in eight two-year-olds are unable to communicate at the level normally expected. The report’s authors said: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic is a further setback, with all signs pointing to the fact that it will have exacerbated early inequalities’.

The falls came despite ‘unprecedented’ investment in early-years education, development and care. Funding for free pre-school and early years childcare increased from £1 billion at the start of the Blair government to just under £4 billion by the end of 2019 – due to a wider understanding of just how important these first few years of life are. The funding, of course, wouldn’t have been much use when facilities were closed: some lessons just can’t be taught on Zoom.

Inequality data can be sparse. However, the study pointed to figures that suggest the inequality gap in childhood development among five-year-olds had been narrowing until the mid-2010s. It then began to widen and the authors say Covid may have ‘exacerbated’ the gap. The report goes no further than that.

The report comes after a study from Sweden found that ‘no learning loss’ had occurred in the country during its pandemic. Sweden of course kept its schools open – and as Matthew Parris argued in the magazine, ended up with a far lower death count than Britain. The study of 97,100 Swedish primary school children not only found no learning loss but also no specific disadvantage for poorer kids. The same can’t be said for England. The IFS highlights how any developmental declines were worse for the most disadvantaged parts of society. But then again, in Australia some studies have also suggested there was no learning loss there, despite school closures. Further research is urgently needed.

Data on absences is concerning too. Some 105,000 English school children are ‘severely absent’ meaning they miss more school days than they attend. Teachers report the same thing: anxiety up, attention down. ‘The ones that can’t cope don’t turn up’, one teacher is quoted as saying. More than 1,000 schools had an entire classroom full of children absent last Autumn – a 53 per cent increase on 2020.

The picture is the same across the country. In Scotland, the attainment gap – which Nicola Sturgeon calls her ‘defining mission’ – widened. Previously it has been narrowing at a snail’s pace. Concerningly not only did the gap grow but scores fell for the well-off as well as the most deprived.

With Baroness Hallett’s Covid public inquiry beginning its private evidence gathering, this could be the only real hope for an official look at the effect of lockdown in all of its dimensions. The IFS report offers a glimpse into what could be a far bigger story.


Australia: Vaccines on trial

When a two-year-old boy died in South Australia last week, Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier was quick to link the death to Covid adding, ‘I know that parents who have heard this news will be pretty worried… that something may happen to their young child if they catch Covid,’ and advising that ‘the best thing families can do, because we’re not vaccinating that age group, is make sure everyone else in the family is vaccinated.’

One family that didn’t take kindly to Spurrier’s announcement were the grieving parents of the deceased child. The infuriated father wrote on the SA Health Facebook page, ‘How dare you lie about my son! He did not die of Covid, you lying witch!’ The mother was equally incensed accusing Spurrier of using her son’s death ‘to push an agenda’ when the cause of death had not even been established.

The agenda is the vaccination against Covid of children aged six months to four years. It was a new low for Spurrier but she is not alone in distorting facts in the rush to vaccinate babies and toddlers.

Dr Clare Craig, a diagnostic pathologist was shocked by the shoddy data Pfizer presented to the FDA in support of its application. Craig is co-chair of the HART Group, highly qualified UK doctors, scientists, economists and other experts who came together over shared concerns about policy relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Craig noted, that the trial recruited 4,526 children yet only 1,526 children made it to the end of the trial, a staggering rate of attrition. She called on Pfizer to explain why two-thirds of the participants dropped out and said without an explanation the trial should be deemed ‘null and void’.

The results of the trial are even more disturbing. There were no cases approximating severe Covid, so Pfizer cooked up its own definition of children experiencing a slightly raised heart rate or a few more breaths per minute. On this basis, there were six children aged two to four in the vaccine group who had ‘severe Covid’ but only one in the placebo group, which suggests the vaccine might actually be causing the children to get ‘severe Covid’. Even more damning, one child had to be hospitalised because they had a fever and suffered a seizure and that child had been vaccinated.

Yet it was when it came to counting cases of Covid, that Pfizer got really creative. In the three weeks after the children had their first shot, 34 vaccinated children got Covid and only 13 in the placebo group, a 30 per cent increase in the risk of getting Covid among the vaccinated, so Pfizer simply ignored that data. There was an eight-week period between the second and third dose during which, once again, more children got Covid in the vaccinated group, and this trend persisted after the third dose. Indeed, to get a positive result, Pfizer had to ignore 97 per cent of all Covid cases that occurred during the trial and only counted ten cases that occurred right at the end, three in the vaccine arm and seven in the placebo arm, declaring that this proved the vaccine was effective.

But that’s not all. In the two-month follow-up period, 12 children got Covid twice and all bar one of them were vaccinated, mostly triple dosed.

On Friday, on the basis of this dodgy data, Pfizer was granted an Emergency Use Authorisation by the FDA, approval that is meant to be granted only when the treatment group faces serious injury or death. Yet as the trial demonstrated, Pfizer was forced to invent a bogus definition of ‘severe Covid’ because Covid is so mild in children in this age group. Moderna’s two-shot vaccine was also approved based on a study which showed efficacy of just 37 per cent, far below the minimum level set at 50 per cent. On Saturday, a panel at the US Centers for Disease Control voted unanimously to recommend approval of the vaccines guaranteeing that they will be rolled out in the US and almost certainly be approved for use in Australia too.

How it can be ethical to give a vaccine to infants who are at so little risk, when there is no long-term safety data is a mystery, especially when so many studies raise safety concerns. Bio-distribution studies that Pfizer conducted but tried to keep secret show that the the lipid nanoparticles that contain the mRNA do not stay in the arm but travel to every organ including the testes and ovaries, where they have unknown impact on reproductive health. The journal Andrology published a peer-reviewed paper last Friday showing large decreases in sperm counts in men after the second Pfizer jab. Transfected cells expressing the spike protein can cause autoimmune diseases including myocarditis.

They also seem to attack key parts of the immune system that suppress viruses and cancers, perhaps explaining why so many vaccinated people suffer the reactivation of latent viruses. mRNA and transfected spike protein can also remain for extended periods in the lymph node germinal centres damaging the immune system by causing T-cell exhaustion. The latest nightmare is that the vaccines appear to trigger a new aggressive form of Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease in some people and amyloidosis in others.

Why does the FDA seem so indifferent to the dangers posed by the vaccine? It’s impossible to say but a trial about to get underway in the US may throw light on the matter. Robert Barnes is the attorney for Brook Jackson, a whistleblower who worked on the Pfizer vaccine trials. Barnes alleges that Jackson reported to the FDA that the Pfizer trials were ‘riddled not only with error but with fraudulent and false certifications to the US government’.

What is fascinating is that Barnes says that Pfizer has moved to dismiss the case on the grounds that it doesn’t matter if they submitted fraudulent certifications or false statements under penalty of perjury to the government, or lied about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine because the government knew what was going on and was their co-conspirator.

It sounds incredible, but it would explain why the FDA tried to suppress the Pfizer trial data for 75 years. And why it seems to pay so little heed to the harm it might do to little children.




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