Daily Mail understates the risks of Covid-19 to children

6 September 2021
What was claimed

No healthy child has died from Covid-19 in the UK.

Our verdict

Incorrect. Six under 18s with no underlying health conditions died from Covid-19 in England before the end of February 2021.

What was claimed

Fewer than 300 children have been hospitalised with Covid-19 in England since the pandemic began and all but around 20 had underlying health issues.

Our verdict

Incorrect. These appear to be the figures for intensive care admissions, not hospital admissions. They also do not include admissions with PIMS-TS. In total, there were 7,050 hospital admissions of children under 18 up to the end of February 2021, 3,181 involving children without underlying health conditions.

No healthy child is believed to have died from Covid in the UK.

The online edition of the Daily Mail claimed that no healthy children have so far died from Covid-19 in the UK. This is not true.

A recent study of Covid deaths in England alone, just up to the end of February 2021, cited by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), found that “six (24%) of the 25 [children and young people under 18] who died of SARS-CoV-2 appeared to have no underlying health conditions.”

This study specifically attempted to count deaths that were actually caused by Covid, or by Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome Temporally Associated with SARS-CoV-2 (PIMS-TS).

Risk of hospitalisation is higher too

The article also said that “fewer than 300 children have been hospitalised with Covid in England since the pandemic began and all but around 20 had underlying health issues.”

This is also incorrect. These figures appear to come from another study cited by the JCVI, where they refer only to the numbers of admissions to intensive care—not all admissions to hospital.

In total, there were 259 under-18 admissions to intensive care with Covid in England up to the end of February 2021, among whom 22 had no underlying health conditions, which are roughly the same as the Mail’s numbers

However, there were a total of 6,338 admissions to hospital, among which 2,923 involved children with no underlying health conditions.

These figures also do not include admissions with PIMS-TS, a serious but rare condition associated with Covid. There were a further 258 of these hospital admissions of children without underlying health conditions, 50 of which were admissions to intensive care.

In total, that makes 7,050 admissions of children under 18 with Covid or PIMS-TS, 3,181 of which involved children without underlying health conditions.

Both these numbers are much higher than the Mail said.

Update 6 September 2021

The conclusion of this article was updated to clarify that it related to under-18s with no underlying health conditions.

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