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Dr. Anthony Fauci was quick to counter comments made by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul about children’s immunity to coronavirus at a Tuesday Senate hearing after Paul made the case for children returning to school in the fall.
Fauci agreed that while children typically fare better than adults or the elderly, researchers are still learning about potentially negative effects the disease may have in kids.
Paul noted how the mortality rate approaches zero for those aged 0 to 18, arguing schools should re-open. He said a “one-size-fits-all” national strategy of school closures “is kind of ridiculous,” given the disease’s “relatively benign course” nationwide outside of New England. He pointed to Sweden’s approach in keeping schools open, saying many others were intrigued by it and did not think it was unacceptable.
“As much as I respect you Dr. Fauci I don’t think you’re the end-all, I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision,” Paul said, citing his concern that poor and underprivileged children will lag behind in schooling by a full year.
“We don’t know everything about this virus and we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children,” Fauci said. “The more and more we learn, we’re seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn’t see from the studies in China or in Europe.
“I think we better be careful (that) we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune from the deleterious effects,” Fauci said, adding that health officials are currently investigating a potentially COVID-19 linked illness presenting in a Kawasaki-like syndrome.
On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state had recorded 102 cases of the illness in children, and that 60 percent of them had tested positive for COVID-19, while 40 percent tested positive for antibodies. Over 70 percent of the cases in New York resulted in an ICU admission, while 19 percent required intubation and 43 percent of cases remain hospitalized.
Fauci said Paul was correct in that the numbers of children with coronavirus, in general, do “much much better” than adults, elderly and particularly those with underlying conditions.
“But I am very careful and hopefully humble in knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease and that’s why I’m very reserved in making broad predictions,” Fauci said.