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COVID-19: “Across virtually every key measure of childhood, progress has gone backward”—UNICEF

re: WHO Says that Lockdowns are a Bad Idea, Hurting the Most Vulnerable Hardest — “lockdown policies producing DEVASTATING effects on short and long-term public health”

Saving geriatric people with a few years of life left is a worthy public policy goal. But goals don’t save people—good policies do. We’ve had terrible policies, failing both to protect the elderly and the young/poor/disadvantaged.

Government policies have failed to save so many elderly lives, while killing children and damaging lives for hundreds of millions. This is largely ignored and at best minimized in politics and the “news” today—see the UNICEF article below, and it is only one of many painful outcomes around the globe.

Policies ought to be about valuing life to its fullest extent, which means minimizing death and suffering. The key is to apply risk assessment, and then to apply mitigations to minimize damage to all groups. More on that below the article.

The GOOD news is that real hope has emerged with vaccines and the early signs of herd immunity. But the policy damage cannot be done and it seems likely that the same errors will be made for future events.

Across virtually every key measure of childhood, progress has gone backward, UNICEF says

Emphasis added.

NEW YORK, 11 March 2021 – One year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the latest available data from UNICEF uncover a devastating and distorted new normal for the world’s children. 

“One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, progress has gone backward across virtually every key measure of childhood,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “The number of children who are hungry, isolated, abused, anxious, living in poverty and forced into marriage has increased. At the same time, their access to education, socialization and essential services including health, nutrition and protection has decreased. The signs that children will bear the scars of the pandemic for years to come are unmistakable.”

How the COVID-19 pandemic has affected children:

  • As of March 2021, 13 per cent of 71 million COVID-19 infections in 107 countries (62 per cent of the total global infections) with data by age are among children and adolescents under 20 years of age. [WIND: children hardly notice they have COVID, with few exceptions]
  • In developing countries, child poverty is expected to increase by around 15 per cent. An additional 140 million children in these countries are also already projected to be in households living below the poverty line.
  • Schools for more than 168 million schoolchildren globally have been closed for almost a year. Two-thirds of countries with full or partial closures are in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • At least 1 in 3 schoolchildren has been unable to access remote learning while their schools were closed.
  • Around 10 million additional child marriages may occur before the end of the decade, threatening years of progress in reducing the practice.
  • At least 1 in 7 children and young people has lived under stay-at-home policies for most of the last year, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation.
  • As of November 2020, an additional 6 to 7 million children under age 5 may have suffered from wasting or acute malnutrition in 2020, resulting in almost 54 million wasted children, a 14 per cent rise that could translate into more than 10,000 additional child deaths per month – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. With a 40 per cent decline in nutrition services for children and women, many other nutrition outcomes can worsen.
  • As of November 2020, more than 94 million people were at risk of missing vaccines due to paused measles campaigns in 26 countries.
  • As of November 2020, in 59 countries with available data, refugees and asylum seekers are unable to access COVID-19-related social protection support due to border closures and rising xenophobia and exclusion.
  • Around 3 billion people worldwide lack basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home. In the least developed countries, three quarters of people, more than two-thirds of schools and a quarter of health care facilities lack the basic hygiene services needed to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. On average 700 children under-five die every day from diseases caused by the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene. 

“Children must be at the heart of recovery efforts,” said Fore. “This means prioritizing schools in reopening plans. It means providing social protection including cash transfers for families. And it means reaching the most vulnerable children with critical services. Only then can we protect this generation from becoming a lost generation.”

WIND: how many lives have to be sacrificed on the alter of bad government policies?

I myself suffered from Long Haul COVID for six months. I have two parent in their 80's; they are at risk and I don't want to lose them. My wife is at risk for two factors. I have three kids, at least one might be at risk due to a health condition.

So when I write about this stuff, it is with a lot of 'skin in the game', and a passionate desire to see suffering and death minimized. I will not sit at the “children’s table” and look at only one side.

Policies failed to protect the elderly/vulnerable while harming everyone. Early on (at least by April), the elderly and vulnerable should have had special opportunities for N95/N100 masks*, special priority for testing, special options for interacting with society so as to minimize exposure, etc. All of that and more. Far more could have been done for high risk groups**.

Second, the strict lockdowns have caused massive damage, hurting the poor and disadvantaged most of all. Especially young people and children. While doing little if anything to protect the elderly and vulnerable.

Every life is precious, but when a 5-year-old dies, a long life is lost, versus that of an elderly person. An adult mind must recognize the difference. The two cannot be considered equal from a moral and ethical standard. But the policies just crushed everyone with no science to show it had any value at all.

We did not save the elderly and vulnerable by lockdowns and masks. We did not do much of anything to protect those most at direct risk from COVID. We did not make sure nutritional deficiencies were addressed as a national do-it-now priority, to increase baseline health.

So we got a lose-lose outcome: lots of dead elderly and lots of dead young people and innumerable lives ruined.

Might there ultimately be 10X (at least) deaths from COVID policies for every death claimed to be from COVID itself?

* I argued from the beginning for quality masks while experts were still arguing against them for months later.
** I argued early on for special measures to protect the most vulnerable.

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