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Horowitz: Lockdown of children is harming immune systems and our best shot at herd immunity

It turns out there is something very deep behind the reason why children rarely get clinically ill from SARS-CoV-2. God’s intelligent design gave them an even greater degree of cross-immunity through common coronavirus colds than many adults have. Ignoring that fact and treating kids as if they are in danger from the virus, more than in our response to the flu, will likely harm them in the long run, ironically, blocking their ability to obtain the very immunity that makes SARS-CoV-2 a statistical non-issue with them.

A group of immunologists and medical researchers published a preprint study (prior to peer review) late last week showing that roughly 60% of blood samples from children who never had SARS-CoV-2 had antibodies from other coronaviruses that were cross-reactive to SARS-CoV-2. This study is a giant step in understanding why children appear to be so unaffected.

While several studies have shown that at least half of adults have cross-reactive T cells from other coronaviruses, this study demonstrates that children likely have an even greater degree of protection, which explains why even more children than adults are asymptomatic or very mildly symptomatic. Only 6% of adult blood samples had cross-reactive antibodies among the blood samples.

This demonstrates that allowing kids to be kids and come home every other day with a cold ensured that they were fortified against a coronavirus that could potentially be more deadly for some. Now, by turning kids into bubble babies and by overstating the threat of this virus to them by a factor of 100, we are ensuring that a generation of kids will be shielded from some of the more mild or common forms of coronavirus that they typically get over time.

This is the broader problem with the panicked response and how it will get more people killed by forestalling herd immunity. God created a world in which the majority of the population has a functioning immune system, particularly children. The entire premise of the national response to this virus is to treat all cases equally and all people equally – sick and healthy. By doing so, they will turn the healthy into the sick, destroy their immune systems in the long run, delay herd immunity to this virus, and expose vulnerable people to a lurking epidemic for longer than it needs to be around – not to mention the risk of atrophy in having so many seniors locked down indefinitely.

As the authors of this study conclude, “Public health measures intended to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 will also prevent the spread of and, consequently, maintenance of herd immunity to HCoVs [common cold coronaviruses], particularly in children. It is, therefore, imperative that any effect, positive or negative, of pre-existing H-CoV-elicited immunity on the natural course of SARS-CoV-2 infection is fully delineated.”

In other words, don’t mess with God’s natural design, especially when fewer kids die from this than from the flu. Not only will endless distancing of children playing together harm kids, but it forecloses on the best shot of achieving herd immunity with the lowest-risk population, thereby shielding the more vulnerable. Imagine how many other viruses will now percolate longer in society and endanger the vulnerable because we’ve tampered with God’s intelligent immunological ecosystem and prevented kids from passing it around.

Like any ecosystem, if children are the beginning of transmitting common colds (unlike COVID-19), then parents and teachers who are around these children are the next rung on the ladder. While this theory still needs further study with clinical trials, a new biomedical study from German researchers found that adults in their 30s and 40s with children have a lower ICU rate than those without children. They assert that the discrepancy in outcomes is “not well explained only by age, gender or BMI distribution for this subgroup” and may possibly be the result of these adults picking up common colds from their children that could fortify them against a more severe form of COVID-19.

What is also striking about these studies showing or implying cross-immunity from other coronaviruses is that it is yet another piece of evidence that this virus is not that novel and is similar to other coronaviruses, which we’ve dealt with for years. Hong Kong researchers found the same principle in 2003 with SARS-1 – that it did not harm children. Thus, this theory of cross-immunity from the common colds has been known already.

After researchers were finding false positives for SARS-1 in British Columbia in 2003, they found that a lot of nursing home patients they assumed to have died from SARS really died from HCoV-OC43, which is thought to be the most common coronavirus cold. A 2006 study by the University of British Columbia Centre for Disease Control concluded two things from the 2003 SARS outbreak in nursing homes: “The virulence of human CoV-OC43 in elderly populations” and also that there is cross-reactivity from these other coronaviruses to SARS that conflated some of the testing.

Thus, there is nothing new under the sun. We’ve been dealing with coronaviruses for a while, and they are dangerous to those who are immunodeficient, but healthy people tend to be partially immune and most children appear to be nearly fully immune precisely because of these other coronaviruses. Indeed, because we didn’t use that reality as a pretext to create bubble boys because of common cold is, ironically, why COVID-19 turns out to be a cold or less for the overwhelming majority of people. Now that we panic over a cold because, for some people, it might be deadly, which has been the case with many other viruses, we will make it much worse than a cold in the long run and harm everyone, most importantly our children.

Obviously, the best outcome would be a magic vaccine that eradicates it 100 percent. But until then, the best hope is to achieve enough herd immunity through the low-risk population that it will essentially turn SARS-CoV-2 into the fifth coronavirus cold. Learning from past history to treat a new strain of coronavirus is much better than employing novel tactics to upend tried and tested immunology.

One last thing…
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