Primum non nocere. That’s the Latin phrase often used in medical ethics that translates to: First, do no harm.
The phrase has been bounced around a lot over the past 15 months as people try to gauge whether or not the various ongoing responses to COVID-19 have been appropriate ones.
And a lot of research has emerged to suggest that the harms of prolonged and widespread lockdowns are actually greater than the benefits.
Yet we appreciate that, for many people, the jury is still out on that and that a lot of folks continue to support shutting things down in the name of beating back a virus.
There will be many post-mortems, reports and inquiries in the months and years ahead that serve to answer the lockdown question once and for all.
But we do believe there’s one part of the question that we can firmly answer now: Kids are being disproportionately harmed during this pandemic.
As of last count, there have been 252,734 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canadians under the age of 19. That accounts for 19 per cent of all cases.
Yet, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there have only been 11 individuals in that age group to die with the virus. And, as public health officials have made clear, COVID-19 was not the cause of death in some of those cases.
In other words, our kids are thankfully not at serious risk of COVID-19. As many paediatricians have noted, COVID-19 is less severe than influenza when it comes to our children.
So why do we continue to have policies in place that harm them?
Why have our schools in Ontario been repeatedly shut down, most recently since mid-April? Why are our children and grandchildren not supposed to see their friends? Why have sports and other activities been mostly cancelled? And why are our children, in some jurisdictions, still required to wear masks outdoors?
It is not acceptable to say that because a child may pass on the virus to an adult that we must therefore keep these policies in place. Do we really believe that’s a sane approach, especially when more than half the population, at least in Chatham-Kent, has received their first vaccination shot? Shouldn’t we be putting our kids first?
Adults need to step up and do the right thing. And that’s to advocate for our kids to return to normal. We need to stop holding them back.