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Opinion | Here’s Some (Slightly) Less Worrisome Covid-and-Kids News

I made that point toward the end of that last newsletter, but it’s worth repeating here. Parents have been left trying to make nearly impossible calculations that aren’t just about whether their kids get a little sick or really sick. (Not-altogether-unrelated P.S.A.: If you’re relying on edibles to get you through, make sure you keep them out of reach of tiny hands.)

Right now it’s not easy for policymakers, either. They often lack the tools to adequately manage this seemingly never-ending pandemic. This week, Dr. Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician and the chief health officer of Indiana University, had some sage advice for public health authorities:

If we’re trying to prevent Covid surges and end the pandemic, then we need to center the population in our thinking. Health authorities need to get tools like rapid tests and better masks to as many people as possible, especially those who are more likely to spread disease, even if they’re at low risk themselves. People need to be persuaded or incentivized to vaccinate to protect others.

Let’s address two other things parents are asking me about: vaccines for the under-5 set, and a new C.D.C. study exploring a potential link between diabetes and Covid in kids.

I asked Dr. Sean O’Leary, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Colorado, when parents might be able to expect a vaccine for preschoolers, toddlers and babies. In an email, he estimated that it will take another three to five months before this age group has access to a vaccine, based on the pace of prior approvals for older children. He added:

There is clearly a lot of demand out there for a vaccine for this age group, we need a vaccine for this age group, but the reality is that even if somehow all of a sudden the vaccine were available tomorrow, it probably wouldn’t make any difference with this current wave. You might want to remind your readers that while they anxiously await a Covid vaccine for younger kids, they should double check their children’s vaccination status for routine childhood vaccines, including influenza. A lot of those diseases are more severe in kids than Covid, and we saw a clinically important drop in uptake due to the pandemic.

Finally, about that C.D.C. diabetes study: If you read the C.D.C.’s tweet about the study, it sounds alarming, and certainly Twitter was aflame with upset parents. But several public health experts pointed out what one described as “severe flaws” and another said were “eye-popping” limitations, suggesting that the study should not be taken as definitive.

I asked one of those experts, Dr. Jeffrey Flier, a diabetes researcher and a former dean of Harvard Medical School, to explain the study’s possible flaws in a way that could help put parents’ minds at ease. He emailed:

In brief: 1. Design of the study had many confounding influences that could easily negate the proposed association once factored in. This seems likely.

2. Even if the association proved true, the risk to any child would be tiny, of a magnitude that would be extremely unlikely to cause alarm.

3. The C.D.C. erred in taking a preliminary and potentially erroneous association and tweeting it to specifically create alarm in parents about the risk of diabetes going up in their children should they get Covid, which has a very low risk of harming their children.

I hope this gives you a bit of solace over this long weekend.

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