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Covid-19: US cases drop overall but increase among children

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 19 October 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n2558

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Rapid Response:

Childhood increase in US Covid-19 cases may be Good News

Dear Editor,

This is just what we need to safely acquire broad and lasting herd immunity against Covid-19, contrary to the views of President Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci that “widespread vaccination is the way out of the pandemic.” (Tanne, BMJ 2021;375:n2558, October 19) The US is now in the eighth week of a steady decline in cases, but this has not stopped US officials from pushing relentlessly for mandates and universal vaccination. The irrationality of this policy is increasingly apparent to large numbers of Americans, whose frustration is reported by Janice Tanne: “These mandates have met resistance, with employees quitting or joining large protests…Resistance to mandates and the vaccine have also led to distrust in public health authorities and anger (and) a ‘staggering exodus’ of public health personnel who were exhausted and demoralized by abuse and threats...Large segments of the public have also turned against agencies (in favor of) pledges to rein in public health departments.”

Those of us with experience using vaccines and treating infectious diseases, and with knowledge of their epidemiology are baffled by the official policy, unless we resort to dark thoughts about the motives behind the policy. Why have US officials consistently dismissed the importance of natural infections in the development of herd immunity? (Block, BMJ 2021;374:n2101, September 13) The evidence that natural infections produce broad and lasting immunity is abundant. The latest in a large number of immunologic and epidemiologic studies comes from Israel ( and shows that natural infections are 96.3% effective in preventing breakthrough illness from the Delta variant compared with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Why have US officials responded by mandating vaccines for young and healthy individuals, recommending shots for young children, and pushing boosters for large segments of the older population?....It is hard not to point to the professional and financial conflicts of interest at the CDC, the FDA, and the NIH. It is hard not wonder about the origin of Covid-19 and about the NIH’s role in funding gain-of-function research, and how they have colored the official US response to the pandemic.

Tanne refers to 725,000 Covid-19 deaths reported so far in the US. This number and the numbers preceding it have been used to intensify the demand for vaccines, but some experts believe they are 10-fold exaggerations, based on the nature of PCR testing and the loose diagnostic criteria being used. (Jaafar et al, CID 2021;72:e932. Bullard et al, CID 2020;71:2663) A recent case report of an asymptomatic woman with a positive PCR found that the test’s Positive Predictive Value for the presence of infection with Covid-19 was only 6.5%! (Coffey et al, JAMA 2021;326:1528. doi:10.110/jama.2021.16146) Yet this is what we are using to enumerate cases and deaths caused by Covid-19.

We have been told by US officials that natural immunity counts for nothing and that everyone must be vaccinated for the pandemic to end. We have been told that Covid cases have declined because of vaccine-induced immunity, even though initial declines began in January 2021 before anyone was fully vaccinated, and even though this summer’s surge began after the majority of the US population had received at least one vaccination. We hear that, across the board, vaccines are safe when we know they cause myocarditis in young men, life-threatening blood clots in young women, thrombocytopenia, anaphylaxis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, transverse myelitis, Bell’s palsy, and deaths in previously healthy people…..We know from 15 years of CDC press releases that officials exaggerated the risks of influenza and the benefits of flu shots, while ignoring, even suppressing, serious adverse vaccine effects. This practice is now being repeated so that Covid-19 deaths in the unvaccinated are enumerated and dramatized in media outlets, while deaths in the vaccinated are ignored or dismissed as coincidence.

We should offer to vaccinate and otherwise protect the truly vulnerable, but allow children and healthy adults acquire the broad and lasting natural immunity that enhances the herd immunity necessary to protect those who are vulnerable. Long experience and the science of epidemiology does not support universal mandates, which are likely to harm the public’s health.

ALLAN S. CUNNINGHAM 22 October 2021

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 October 2021
Allan S. Cunningham
Retired pediatrician
Cooperstown NY 13326 USA <