One zombie myth spread by misinformation doctors is that COVID had a “mortality rate of zero among children without a pre-existing medical condition such as leukemia.” While deaths of children with “no prior health issues” are mercifully extremely rare, nearly every child in the US has contracted COVID. A small percentage of a big number can be a big number, especially when it comes to largely preventable deaths of children. Moreover, most children felled by COVID had common, non-fatal conditions, namely obesity and asthma, not leukemia, though even this is not always a death sentence today. The tragic truth is that nearly all children who died of COVID were robbed of many decades of life, and of course, death is not the only bad outcome from COVID.
So why were some doctors so eager to spread the easily-refutable fiction that only vulnerable children died from COVID? Why did they say this was “good news”? I’m not a mind reader, but none of them seemed motivated to raise awareness about the conditions that left millions of children particularly vulnerable. They never launched a campaign to vaccinate children with obesity, or even leukemia for that matter. That would have been laudable. So would have an editorial titled “The Importance of Protecting Vulnerable Children.” Instead, it seemed the purpose of error-filled editorials titled “The Flimsy Evidence Behind the CDC’s Push to Vaccinate Children” was to convince parents: Your child has no risk. They don’t need the vaccine. COVID only kills children who are about to die anyways.
Some people also heard an implicit message here: Vulnerable children don’t really count. This was made explicit on social media recently. In response to a banal comment of mine that “Covid has actually killed and injured kids”, a philosopher (who later deleted her account) replied:
Consider what this person is saying. Jonathan Howard was wrong to say that COVID killed kids. All the kids who died of COVID were sick anyways. Vulnerable children don’t really count.
Of course, vulnerable children really count. And even doctors who lack real-world responsibility for treating them should have been willing to promote this message throughout the pandemic.