NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Trying to help people who one signer said had been “steamrolled” by draconian COVID-19 guidelines, a letter from prominent medical professionals this week called on the Biden administration to strongly revise its mitigation guidelines for children.
“The most defenseless people in America have been steamrolled by many COVID policies,” Dr. Marty Makary told Fox News Digital. “The last people in America to be forced to wear masks were waiters, waitresses and children… At this point, we need to stop the excessive restrictions that continue to harm children. And that’s why I signed on.”
Makary was one of the 29 doctors and scientists to sign the letter from Urgency of Normal, which was formed over concerns that continued COVID-19 measures for U.S. children are doing more harm than good and rejecting a holistic approach to pediatric health. Addressing White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha and Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, they declared the emergency phase of coronavirus is over and said it’s time to restore “equitable and maximal access to education, sports, and social connectedness for all children. Their health and well-being depend on it.”
“We strongly urge you to revise the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines with regards to testing, isolation, and vaccine recommendations for children to ensure that public health policies are not doing more harm than good,” their letter stated, led by Dr. Vinay Prasad and Dr. Lucy McBride. It was co-signed by dozens of parent organizations, many of them formed to urge school re-openings during the pandemic.
“Many European countries, U.S. states and Canadian provinces have already updated their COVID-19 policies to reflect that vaccines and infection-acquired immunity have reduced the risk of a severe COVID-19 outcome for youth, and to acknowledge that all mitigation measures have unintended consequences. Massachusetts, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, British Columbia and elsewhere have recommended an end to routine screening testing and mandatory isolation periods for children. Most have also eliminated any COVID-19 vaccine requirements for children to fully participate in public life.”
Dr. Nicole Saphier, a Fox News contributor, also signed onto the letter.
“I would say the majority of Americans feel that COVID is in the rearview mirror for us. Our policies are not reflecting that,” she told Fox News Digital.
Between widespread vaccinations, milder variants and protective natural immunity, coronavirus has become more of a bad cold for most people than anything truly severe, she said. Yet, there are still elementary schools sending children home for five days if they’re positive for COVID-19, regardless of symptoms, and college students who can’t stay on campus if they haven’t been boosted.
“We have to get back to where we’ve always been with kids. Meaning, if your kid’s sick, keep them home from school. If they’re not, send them to school,” Saphier said.
The letter harped on the ruinous consequences of prolonged school closures, which have included learning loss, widening achievement gaps between high- and low-income students, as well as rising mental health issues and long-term educational disruptions. Children have also been statistically at a scant risk of severe outcomes from the virus throughout the pandemic; according to the CDC, those aged 0-17 make up about 22.3 percent of the U.S. population but have accounted for about 0.1 percent of all COVID-19 deaths.
It’s well past time for the Biden administration to get with the rest of the world and relax the stringent measures, the letter argued.
“We have never systematically screened and isolated children, nor forcibly excluded them from school or other activities, for other respiratory viruses,” the letter stated. “Instead, affected individuals have been able to return to work or school as soon as they are fever-free for 24 hours and symptoms are improving, without testing. At this point, the CDC should recommend these same common-sense policies for COVID-19, as other nations have done, protecting high risk groups while facilitating unrestricted return to work and school.”
Among their recommendations were to replace asymptomatic testing with a “test-to-treat” approach that focuses on treating vulnerable and immunocompromised youngsters, and rescind the CDC recommendation against vaccinating and boosting healthy, young people. The CDC continues to recommend “universal” indoor mask use in areas of high COVID transmission, “screening testing for high-risk activities such as indoor sports and extracurricular activities,” and isolating for at least five days if unvaccinated and exposed to COVID-19.
The letter came the same week as the Biden administration scaled up efforts to vaccinate children under 5 years old, the last age group that has not been inoculated. Makary, a Johns Hopkins health policy expert and surgeon, questioned why there is a “disproportionate enthusiasm” around vaccinating kids under five years old.
“We see this lockstep, sort of toeing the party line that simply violates the very nature of a scientific forum,” the Fox News contributor said. “There appears to be this agenda-driven series of policies that go against a large body of scientific data… Why are we immunizing children who are already immune? That’s never made sense medically.”
“Many medical COVID policies at institutions are being written by general counsels, lawyers who perceive that they cannot be out of step with CDC guidelines,” he added. “One of the goals of the letter is to make it known that a large chorus of physicians, of respected physicians, have, just in perspective, looked at the comprehensive health and not just transmission of one virus. And the cure cannot be worse than the disease. We shut kids out of school, ignited a mental health crisis, all in the name of burning a village in order to save it. It’s time for kids to get back to normal life. Population immunity is impeccably high.”
“A lot of places are hiding behind the safety net of the CDC,” Saphier said. “Well, if they do anything that goes against what the CDC says, and then something actually happens, they’re concerned about liability, but this shouldn’t be about liability. What about the liability of the harm that we have done to these children and people in general with these COVID policies?”
Makary and Saphier see media responsibility for the U.S. still being an “outlier” in its COVID mitigation measures. A study found last year that U.S. media coverage had been far more negative than its counterparts in the rest of the world, with drastic consequences, particularly for more liberal readers. HBO late-night host Bill Maher scolded the liberal press for “scaring the s–t” out of people and leading them to believe a COVID diagnosis was likely to land them in the hospital.
“There continues to be a blind parroting by the mainstream media of government doctors putting out dogmatic COVID policies,” Makary said.
Saphier, whose book “Panic Attack” delved into what she called playing politics with science around COVID-19, said the media promulgated fear throughout the pandemic.
“As soon as more data became evident, it should have been, protect the vulnerable while the remaining country goes on,” she said. “But again, they were very delayed in acknowledging this, and even in some places they are still not, as we are seeing the mandates in colleges and even the children, you still have children in preschool in New York City wearing masks when there’s not one shred of evidence demonstrating a benefit. But there certainly is evidence demonstrating harm.”
“At this point, it’s clear that children are going to be most healthy if they are allowed to live their lives,” Makary said.