Will the Coronavirus Mutate to Attack Children?

Dear Donald and Betsy:  Please do not subject our children to a Coronavirus mutation experiment.

We know that the Coronavirus is mutating, and we could have gotten the mutation arising from Europe.  It’s not that the virus is a being.  It is evolution and the zillion reproduced viral forms produced on every victim that naturally make test mutations.  The ones most likely to spread, and to massively reproduce, especially in presymptomatic victims, are the ones that will prosper and multiply.  Now, the main spread is among people age 18 to 44, since elders are wiser, and wisely sheltering.  Also, those older than 65, are likely retired and less exposed to the public.

Now, Trump is forcing K-12 schools to restart in-person classes.  Yesterday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos insisted that all schools go in-person 100%.  Today she is backing a plan to apparently remove funding from public schools and giving that to the students to use in, presumably, unscrupulous private schools which will start in-person despite the risks to children.  DeVos has personal business conflicts involving private and religious schools, and has been pushing for public funding of such schools.  They are now using children’s and their parents health as sacrifices to accomplish private school funding and getting Trump reelected.   I don’t think many religious schools would agree with sacrificing lives for their funding.

So far, children don’t really have any deaths from the virus.  But there are 6.2 million children with asthma, often from pollution, and other vulnerabilities, such as 0.2 million with Type I diabetes.  But no children want to infect their parents, and feel responsible for seeing them hospitalized.  There are 76 million school children in America.

But the possibility being speculatively raised in this article, is that with children being the new and main carriers, the Coronavirus would evolve into forms which would multiply more in children to provide more virus cells to be spread by exhaling aerosols and coughing up droplets.  That would make the children much sicker and require hospitalization and the need for oxygen.  There are other viruses which are more dangerous to children than the Coronavirus, so it may be possible for this to become one of them.

The other people vulnerable in schools are teachers and staff.  The latest data that I could quickly find on teacher’s ages was from 2011-2012 on the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) website.  Nationwide, 18.8% are over 55, and another 11.9% are between 50-55, totaling 30.7%.  The median age of teachers nationwide is 44.0 years.  In California, the number of teachers 55 or over is 23.7%, and adding 12.6% between 50-55 gives 36.3%.  Texas had 18.8% over 55, and 11.2% between 50-55, giving 30%.  Florida didn’t have any figures in the table.

Many schools start at the end of August.  California schools start much later in September.  That gives us time to see how badly the infection rate is, before we make our final commitment.  Election Day is two months after school starts, by which time we will find out the wisdom of blind reopening of 100% in-person classes, and if the Coronavirus will evolve by mutation again.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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