"Covid vaccine? Yes, but children don't need it " begins with this sentence the article-appeal of a group of Italian scientists, epidemiologists, doctors, pediatricians, psychologists, biologists, engineers and jurists, includingepidemiologist Sara Gandini, one of top italian scientist most cited in the world, which turns the spotlight on on the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine to the age group 12-15 years after approval by theEma andAifa.
Professor Gandini, Director of the Molecular Pharmaco-Epidemiology Unit of the IEO of Milan, after analyzing scientific studies on children and Covid-19, she is also one of the authors of a study, published in Lancet Regional Health - Europe - a magazine affiliated with The Lancet - on the incidence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in schools elementary and middle school.
What are the data on the incidence of Covid-19 in schools?
"From various studies published in Italy and abroad and from the screening carried out in schools - we read in the article on the topic of Covid-19 vaccination for children - we know that schools are one of the safest places. Under the age of 20, the susceptibility to infection is estimated to be about half that of those over 20. Mortality between 0 and 20 years from Covid-19 corresponds to 0.17 per 100,000 inhabitants, equal to one hundredth of the estimated total mortality from all causes in a normal year. The number of vaccines to be used (NNT) for children is about 14,000 to avoid a severe case of Covid-19 disease and about 500,000 to avoid death. Given the low incidence, the low severity of the disease in pediatric groups and the fact that schools do not play a major role in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, even with the new variants, and therefore the limited benefits that vaccines could have for the community, at the moment there is no urgent need to vaccinate young people, while it is much more urgent to vaccinate the many elderly and frail people who, for various reasons not attributable to them, have not had access to the vaccine or have not yet managed to book on the platform. Furthermore, although these data are preliminary, in the countries where high vaccination coverage has been achieved (UK, Israel) the infection curve has been reduced even without vaccination of the under 16s. On the contrary, in the face of minimal benefits in young people, however, there is the possibility, albeit remote, of known and common adverse events, although probably largely reversible. Post-marketing surveillance of vaccinations has recently begun; information on rare but dangerous events could arise over the years. The FDA emergency use approval is based on approximately 1000 children between 12-15 years of age and therefore the safety information that can be deduced cannot exclude rare adverse events, with an incidence of less than 1/500. Especially when it comes to obligation, the balance between risks and expected benefits should be established by an analysis conducted over the long term, especially in young people. Even only in the light of these uncertainties and the peculiarity of the life expectancy of the pediatric age, the principle of balancing constitutional values, of health primarily as an individual fundamental right (Article 32 paragraph 1 of the Constitution) and of the enhancement of the best interests of the child and adolescent (articles 3 UNCDC and article 24 EU Charter of Rights) require the use of particular caution until adequate knowledge of the implications of this vaccination is obtained. Among the risks of anti-covid vaccines to young people we include the symbolic message we communicate to children: be careful because anyone can be a danger. We are teaching to be afraid of the other than oneself, to be afraid of closeness, of the embrace, because the encounter could potentially always be a bearer of disease. Symbolically a serious matter. The vaccines against Covid-19 carried out in the adult age groups they are reducing severe cases of disease and mortality in the population. Their administration should continue to protect first of all the risk groups, for which the disease can be serious and lethal, including pediatric subjects who are particularly exposed due to concomitant diseases.