For most American adults, the Covid-19 situation is now straightforward. Vaccines are widely available, and once you’ve had one, Covid no longer needs to rule your life. You are unlikely to contract any form of the virus and you are virtually guaranteed not to suffer from severe symptoms.
You can socialize with friends, indoors or outdoors. You don’t need to wear a mask to protect yourself or others. To you, Covid has ended up looking like a mild flu that you are unlikely to catch.
For children under 12, on the other hand, the situation is more complicated. They are not yet eligible to receive a vaccine. And with the spread of the Delta variant of the virus, many parents are understandably anxious. Over the past week, I’ve received emails and social media posts from some of these parents asking for help thinking about Delta. I will try to provide it to you today.
How bad is Delta?
As each new variant of the coronavirus emerged, people feared it would be a game-changer – vaccine resistant or much more severe. So far, however, all of the variants have been much more similar to the original version of the virus than they are different.
The vaccines are effective in all of them, and many of the early fears about the severity of the variant symptoms have not been confirmed. This is why some public health experts use the term “scariants”.
Delta appears to be worse than most, as I described in Monday’s newsletter. It is perhaps the worst variant yet, in terms of contagiousness and severity. Yet it also seems to be in the same broad spectrum as the previous ones.
Consider this data from England, where Delta is already prevalent. Covid-related child hospitalizations have increased from their lows a few weeks ago, but the increases are not significant:
The best guess seems to be that Delta will be slightly worse for children than earlier versions of the virus. “I haven’t seen any data that particularly worries me about Delta in children,” Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo told me.
Covid vs car trips
This evidence suggests that severe versions of Covid will continue to be extremely rare in children.
As you can see here, some common activities – and several other illnesses – have caused many more child deaths than Covid:
It is the same for infants:
Death isn’t the only outcome parents fear, of course. Yet “long Covid” and hospitalizations have also been very rare among children. It’s just that society has been so focused on Covid that we’ve paid intense attention to the risks associated with it – even when they’re smaller than the other risks we mindlessly accept.
To take an example, we don’t use the term ‘long flu’, but it’s a real problem, including for children: a university study found that up to 10% of people who contract the flu develop later heart inflammation.
Severe forms of Covid are so rare in children that a few countries with a better Covid history than the United States – such as Britain, Germany and Israel – may not even officially recommend vaccination for most children. . The decision will be up to the individual parents.
It is true that children will face a higher risk of contracting Covid once they resume their activities than they would during the lockdown. The good news is that Covid transmission rates in the United States have plummeted, making every activity safer than it would have been last fall or winter.
Some basic principles
Different parents will make different decisions, and that’s only natural. Here are some guiding principles:
The interruption of school and other normal activities caused considerable damage to the children – academically, socially and psychologically. Helping children return to normal activities is important for their health. “The kids should be at camp,” NYU pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Jennifer Lighter told me.
There are still enough uncertainties related to Covid that certain precautions may make sense for children, such as wearing masks indoors or avoiding crowded places. “The actual overall threat of death is tiny and the threat to health is quite low,” said Dr. Robert Wachter of the University of California, San Francisco, “but if I had young children I would still prefer really they don’t have Covid. ”
The most risky areas are those with the lowest vaccination rates, which are generally located in the southeast and west of the mountains. “If I lived in a place where cases were on the rise, I would be more worried that my children could contract Covid,” Nuzzo said.
Polls suggest that many Democratic voters have an exaggerated sense of the risks of Covid for children. If you are a liberal, you might want to ask yourself if you fall into this category. (If you’re conservative, you might want to encourage more of your friends to get the shots.)
The biggest risk to your child’s health today is almost certainly not Covid. This is probably an activity that you have long considered acceptable, such as swimming, biking, or traveling by car.
A programming note: Next week I’ll be working on other Times projects. This newsletter will always arrive in your inbox each morning, written by my colleagues from Le Matin, and I will be back on Monday June 28th.
“I taught online school this year. It was a shame ” Lelac Almagor, a seasoned teacher, writes in The Times.
Local sports leagues promote the community; travel sports “create inequalities and separations”, Nicolas dawidoff argues in an essay by The New Yorker.
Victoria’s Secret tries a new look
After years of declining popularity, Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie giant known for its hypersexy image, is undergoing a major overhaul.
One of the biggest changes: more angels, scantily clad models like Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks who posed exclusively for the company. In their place is “the VS collective”, seven women who will advise and promote the brand, including football star Megan Rapinoe and actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
Victoria’s Secret has long “embodied a certain widely accepted stereotype of femininity,” Sapna Maheshwari and Vanessa Friedman wrote in The Times. But this model is outdated now. Over the past decade, there has been a rise in “anti-Victoria secrets,” as Rory Satran wrote in the Wall Street Journal. Competitors like ThirdLove and Cuup prioritize “comfort as well as sensuality and structure, inclusive sizing and non-objectifying advertising images featuring a diverse group of models.”
Victoria’s Secret took a long time to adjust. “We had to stop worrying about what men want and what women want,” said Martin Waters, brand general manager. In stores, models will now come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The company will also begin to offer products such as nursing bras and sportswear.
One question remains: will women buy it? – Sanam Yar, a morning writer
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook
Yesterday’s Spelling Bee pangram was exciting. Here is today’s puzzle – or you can play it online.
Here are today’s mini crosswords, and a hint: food that can be ordered from asada or al pastor (four letters).
If you want to play more, find all of our games here.
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. My colleagues will be writing The Morning next week and I’ll be back on June 28. – David
PS Denise Grady, who has reported on science and medicine for The Times for over 22 years, is retiring.
You can see today’s printed homepage here.
There is no new episode of “The Daily”. Instead, in episode 4 of “X Day”, an interview with the first soldier to stand trial for terrorism in Germany since WWII. In “The Ezra Klein Show,” Betsey Stevenson, an economist in the Obama administration, discusses inflation.
Lalena Fisher, Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar have contributed to The Morning. You can join the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up here to receive this newsletter in your inbox.