Children are at far greater risk of death from influenza than from COVID-19, a new report states.
The report, published on May 18 by the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP), says school-aged children between the ages of five and 14 have a one in 200,000 chance of dying from influenza but a one in 2.5 million chance of dying from COVID-19. Children aged from one to four have an even lower chance of fatality from COVID-19: they are 20 times more likely to die of the flu than of COVID-19.
Those statistics make a solid case for reopening schools, especially pre-K through junior high, the report states. Reopening schools could also make it easier to reopen certain parts of the economy, as workers will not have to worry about childcare or leaving their children at home during school hours.
As seen in the accompanying figures, school-aged children are much less at risk from COVID-19 than their adult counterparts. Coronavirus would not even make the list of the top 10 leading causes of death for people aged 24 or younger, the study notes. The leading cause of death for ages one to 44 is unintentional injury.
The adult population faces a much more significant risk from COVID-19, especially those over the age of 75, the report states. Those above the age of 85 are 314 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those aged 25-34. Death rates from COVID-19 skyrocket as age increases, making it important to prioritize safety in nursing homes and assisted-living units, the report states.
Measuring the Risks
As states across the country consider the safest ways to begin reopening businesses, schools, and transportation, information about the potential risks of COVID-19 compared to the other risks Americans face on a daily basis provide a crucial understanding of what can safely be opened first, FREOPP states.
Although it is important to calculate and understand the potential risks of reopening, it is also critical to recognize the potential harm imposed by keeping states in lockdown, writes FREOPP President Avik Roy in the report.
“Our caution should include an understanding that while the risks of COVID-19 are serious, they appear to be in the range of other lethal diseases that are all too common in the United States and other industrialized countries,” writes Roy. “There is growing evidence that complete economic lockdowns cause more harm than good, and that it is possible to prudently reopen the economy today. Reopening is especially important to lower-income Americans, whose economic prospects have been most durably and significantly harmed by shelter-in-place orders.”
Emma Kaden (EKaden@heartland.org) is an assistant editor at The Heartland Institute.