The risk of children catching coronavirus is ‘unbelievably low’, according to one of the UK’s top experts.
Eminent statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter said data has also shown that teachers do not have a greater risk of becoming infected.
The University of Cambridge professor’s testimony comes amid an explosive row over the reopening of schools next month.
Professor Spiegelhalter pointed out that just one out of 7million children aged four to 14 in England and Wales has died from COVID-19.
He also claimed children carry just a fraction of the viral load compared to adults, which significantly reduces their ability to fall ill or infect others.
Professor Spiegelhalter told the BBC: ‘There have been, based on the data so far, extremely low risks to children. Out of 7million five to 14-year-olds in England and Wales, so far the number of death certificates revealed with Covid on it is one.
‘There will be more [that haven’t been confirmed], but there is still an extremely low risk. Of course we must remember this group of kids are staggeringly safe in general, less than one in 10,000 die every year. Nobody’s ever been safer in the history of humanity than this group of kids.’
Professor Spiegelhalter said that at least one child had died from a rare inflammatory illness linked to coronavirus, but reassured parents that the risk of the complication would now be ‘much lower now the epidemic in the community is under control.’
Asked about whether teachers and parents were being put at risk by schools reopening, the Cambridge professor said data suggested not.
He added: ‘The Office for National Statistics analysed Covid risks by occupation – some have higher risks, including bus drivers and care home workers.’ But teachers were not included in this category, he said.
‘Of course people are anxious about the rest of the family, but in healthy young parents aged between 20 and 40, there have only been about 30 death so far out of 30,000 who don’t have existing conditions.
‘There’s about a three in a million chance of risk of death. That’s a measurable risk, but in a sense it’s a manageable risk… it’s not overwhelming at all.’