School closings will increase the death toll in Covid by prolonging the outbreak.


The UK government could have saved the lives of the elderly by allowing young people to contract the coronavirus, a senior scientist said.

Professor Graeme Ackland, who wrote a report in the British Medical Journal, Closing schools was more effective in slowing the spread of the disease, but resulted in more deaths overall than leaving schools open.

As a second wave hits the UK and Europe and new lockdowns are being considered, Prof. Ackland said reaching herd immunity quickly is the best way to keep the death toll down unless a vaccine is detected.

The professor of computer simulation at Edinburgh University told The National To save lives, it would be better if a higher proportion of young people were infected because they have fewer chances of dying and this would protect older people in the long term.

This would enable herd immunity that is widely believed to be achieved when 40 percent of the population is infected.

Heavy lockdowns would only suppress the disease, with a third and fourth soon to follow the current second wave unless a vaccine arrived within a year, the report said. It re-analyzed the modeling work done by Imperial College at the beginning of the outbreak, which is believed to have played a major role in the government’s decision to order a lockdown in March.

The University of Edinburgh report also suggested that easing social distancing among those under 70 would lead to fewer deaths among the elderly.

“Assuming that 40 percent of the disease is inevitable, the way to keep the death toll as low as possible is to make it so that the people who will not die will Are people who develop the disease, ”said Prof. Ackland.

A group of international scientists also called for a change in the coronavirus strategy to enable young and healthy people to lead normal lives while protecting those in need of protection.

The so-called Great Barrington Declaration, written by three scientists from the Universities of Oxford, Stanford and Harvard and signed by hundreds of other scientists, also advocated spreading Covid in low-risk groups in order to achieve herd immunity.

Globally, there have been 36.2 million infections and 1,057,000 deaths from Covid-19, including 42,515 deaths in the UK.

It is believed that a brief, sharp infection shock could be the best way to ultimately keep the death rate down.

“Closing schools will reduce the number of Covid-19 reproductions, but has the unexpected effect of increasing the total number of deaths,” the report said. Impact of school closings on coronavirus disease mortality in 2019.

“Isolating younger people would increase the total number of deaths, albeit postponed to a second and subsequent waves.”

The report predicted that between 15 and 40 million people would become infected without an immediate vaccine.

At a 1 percent death rate, that would result in 200,000 deaths.

“If you can maneuver those 20 million people to the younger population, you can potentially reduce the number of deaths,” said Prof. Ackland, 58.

According to the current Covid modeling, social distancing reduced the number of infections in each age group, but “increased the total number of deaths compared to social distancing only in those over 70”.

On that basis, it would be better to allow younger people to become infected with minimal social distancing, creating herd immunity that protects the old.

The report suggested the national lockdown only delayed the long-term damage from Covid-19 but kept the National Health Service intensive care beds from being overwhelmed.

However, the report said the lockdown “prolonged the epidemic and, in some cases, resulted in more deaths over the long term”.

It did so because Covid deaths “are heavily targeted at older ages” and, without a vaccine, “none of the UK’s proposed mitigation strategies would bring the total projected death toll below 200,000”.

Just before the lockdown in March, the UK government had a choice of whether to save lives or protect the NHS.

“What the modeling told you was that you have to make a choice,” said Prof. Ackland.

“Do you want to save lives or do you want to save the NHS? Which do you want to prioritize?

“It was a terrible decision they had to make, and it seems they saved the NHS.”

But he said the choice would be right if a successful vaccine was developed within a year.

“The caveat on this report is that if there is a vaccine now and no one else dies, it probably made perfect sense to close schools,” said Prof. Ackland.

“But if there isn’t a vaccine it was a bad idea because there will be a second wave that is happening now.

“And if state intervention suppresses the second wave as much as the first, then there will be a third and perhaps a fourth wave.”

Updated: October 8, 2020, 3:03 am


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