Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar contradicted President Donald Trump Thursday, saying, “we have seen transmission among children” of Covid-19, in an interview with MSNBC.
His comments came just a day after Trump falsely claimed that children are “virtually immune” to the virus that has taken the lives of over 150,000 Americans.
Questions about Covid-19 infection in children—How many contract it? How severe is it? How easily do they spread it?—are a major question facing local officials who are considering whether to open schools. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to make a decision Friday as many major districts across the country have opted to take classes online.
Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. blocked a video shared by accounts linked to Trump Wednesday. The video showed a clip of a Wednesday Fox News interview with Trump in which he said children are “virtually immune” from the Covid-19 coronavirus.
“[Children] don’t have a problem, they just don’t have a problem,” Trump said. “It doesn’t have an impact on them. I’ve watched some doctors say they’re totally immune.”
Azar said that it’s “pretty clear” we see “very low severity rate of infection for kids 18 and under” in Thursday’s interview. He cited a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found 76% of campers and staff tested in a Georgia camp contracted Covid-19.
Immunity and a low severity rate aren’t the same thing. An immune person’s body can recognize and fight off the virus with virtually no symptoms and remember the same germ in the case of future infection. Low severity means that fewer people have harsh symptoms, and those people will likely be able to recover without intensive medical assistance or hospitalization.
“We need to keep gathering data about kids and incidence rate,” Azar said.
A Chicago study found that children younger than five carry the virus at much higher amounts than older children and adults.
—With assistance from Kasia Klimasinska
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