Around the world, there has been widespread fear and anxiety since the beginning of the pandemic. While some fear is natural, we are now into 21 months, and yet fear levels have hardly abated. The mainstream narrative on Covid-19 goes: “Covid-19 is a danger to everyone, and all must socially distance and lockdown until we can eliminate the virus.”
This narrative keeps everyone in constant fear of fellow humans. It treats children more as virus carriers than as adorable, innocent, normal children. Is this narrative accurate, or is it based on disproportionate fear?
In trying to talk to friends and colleagues who believe this narrative, I have been called a conspiracy theorist by many. After all, so many public health authorities in so many countries tell us this narrative. How can it be possible that so many authorities in so many countries are wrong? How can so many scientists be wrong?
The spirit of scientific inquiry demands that we look at things from first principles. It cannot be based on: “how can so many people be wrong.” There are several easy-to-see indications that much of the world’s response to Covid-19 is indeed disproportionate fear rather than a rational response.
Below, I list five such obvious indications, all in the context of children.
(1) Starving already malnourished children: The first indication of the hugely imbalanced response is that the lockdown response, based on the mainstream narrative, starved already malnourished children.
In India, malnutrition among children has been a huge problem for decades, directly or indirectly responsible for killing nearly 3% of infants, about 2000 preventable deaths per day. Yet, the lockdown narrative chose to shut schools and mid-day meal schemes, starving millions of already malnourished kids: they are not yet back to normal after 21 months!
(2) Labeling children as dangerous disease agents: The second indication of imbalanced response is that children have been deprived of a normal childhood, play, socialization and education. In many cases they were even blamed for the death of the elderly.
Even if it were indeed true that children could spread a virus, this is hardly the way to treat them: for several months and years, with no end in sight. And evidence is overwhelming that schools do not contribute much to Covid spread, and some research even indicates that exposure to children may be protective on average, against Covid-19.
In India, it is even more absurd that almost everything is normal for adults: restaurants, malls, movie theatres, crowded events, crowded buses and trains and flights, etc.; while at the same time schools are not open, and even where open, normal activities are not permitted for kids!
(3) Covid-19 vaccines for kids without long-term safety data: The same mainstream narrative also pushes for Covid-19 vaccines for kids, when there has been no pandemic for kids anywhere in the world (e.g. Germany, Sweden, data from various other European countries). Rolling out kids’ jabs without long-term safety data is medical malfeasance, and yet another indication of the disproportionate response to Covid-19.
(5) Vaccinating kids without parental consent: Some parts of the world (e.g. UK, Switzerland, Philadelphia/USA) allowed kids as young as 11 or 12 years to get vaccinated without parental consent. Performing a medical procedure for a child, without parental consent, should be unthinkable. This is another dimension of the above medical malfeasance and disproportionate response.
Ethical dilemma vs treatment of kids in our Covid response
There is a classical thought experiment used to illustrate ethical dilemmas. Should the person standing next to the lever “do nothing” and let the train kill five people, or should he push the lever and be explicitly responsible for the death of one person? It is a dilemma because there is no necessarily “correct” answer.
It is instructive to compare this dilemma with our Covid response: we have victimized kids and robbed them of a childhood, with no benefit whatsoever to show for it! Continuing the same response even after knowing that Covid poses miniscule risk to kids, would be deeply unethical.
Getting out of mass psychosis, for the sake of our children
Due to unidimensional focus on Covid-19, driven in no small part by a profit-motived media as well as social-media echo chambers, disproportionate fear has now reached levels of mass psychosis.
Our children are our future, as Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has reminded us of the obvious recently. There has been no pandemic for children anywhere in the world. Yet their lives have been upended and futures ruined, not by the virus, but by our disproportionate fear-based response.
It is each child’s constitutional as well as birth-right to have a normal childhood. It is high time the public comes out of disproportionate fear of Covid-19, and high time that health authorities start taking evidence-based steps, rather than fear-based steps. The future of our children is at stake.