Medicine is not an exact science. From surgeries to vaccines and pills, nothing is 100 per cent safe. The point of medical intervention, however, is that the benefits outweigh the risks involved. Take Covid: an 80-year-old stands a very real one in five chance of being hospitalised if infected with the virus. Having had two doses of any vaccine, the risk is reduced (on average) by more than 90 per cent, bringing it down from 20 per cent to less than 2 per cent.

Children are not adults or the elderly

Now, let’s look at children. Analysis of public health data in England from the first year of the pandemic showed that out of 4 million infections, just 5800 children were hospitalised. That translates to a 0.001 per cent chance of hospitalisation for kids (if infected). Now, if vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalisation by 90 per cent, 0.001 per cent becomes 0.0001 per cent.

Let us stop for a moment and remember that according to the UK government’s Yellow Card Scheme, up to 7 per 1000 doses of Covid vaccines administered in the UK lead to serious reactions. If you’re 80 years old, the benefit of the jab arguably outweighs its risk since the vaccines slash your chances of serious illness from Covid. But the same cannot be said for children, whose chance of becoming seriously ill from the disease goes from being minuscule to just a little more minuscule — yet still with a not-so-rare possibility of an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

Thus, in terms of the health of children, it is evident that Covid vaccines do not outweigh the (albeit small) risks involved.

‘Yes, but vaccination reduces transmissibility’, I hear you think. Does it, though? Firstly, this assertion is seriously undermined by the fact that 80 per cent of over 16s are fully inoculated and yet we continue to average almost 35,000 new daily cases. Secondly, the government can’t have its cake and eat it. Since the start of the year, those fully vaccinated have had to continue abiding by measures designed to stop them from spreading the virus; this includes mask-wearing and social distancing. (Laws that remain in place in Scotland and Wales, by the way). Thus, it is completely contradictory to say that vaccination reduces transmissibility yet simultaneously enforce laws that treat the vaccinated as being equally dangerous to the spread of the disease as the unvaccinated.

So, tell me, where are the health benefits of vaccinating children?

Moral grey area

Aside from the facts and figures, let’s consider the moral implications of vaccinating children.

Children don’t have a choice whether to get vaccinated or not. When I was a kid, I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get a needle in my arm, and I had to be forcefully held down during the procedure. Nothing I could do. Now, I’m not saying for one moment that children should have to consent to medical procedures — obviously, that should be down to the parents who actually understand their importance.

However, if you’re going to force someone (no matter their age) to get something injected into their body, it must be in their best interest. This is certainly the case for some common vaccines that children get, such as  MMR, tuberculosis and polio. Without them, infant mortality would be (and was) much higher. However, as suggested previously, Covid poses no serious risk to the average child. Medical coercion in this case, therefore, becomes completely unjustifiable.

Finally, and more practically, comes the point about vaccine inequality, which the West has created through its Scrooge-style hoarding of the global supply. Recently, the World Health Organisation’s Director-General pointed out that out of the 4.8bn doses of Covid shots administered worldwide, 75 per cent have gone to just 10 countries. Indeed, whilst the EU, the UK and the US have fully vaccinated an average of 60 per cent of their total populations, countries in desperate need of jabs are far behind. India and South Africa are together still seeing as much as 1000 Covid deaths a day as they struggle to vaccinate even 10 per cent of their populations.

Given the grim data, how can the Global North possibly justify wasting vaccines on those whose chance of becoming seriously ill from Covid is almost nonexistent, instead of vaccinating vulnerable people in developing countries who could die without the immunity?

So, as the NHS draws up plans to vaccinate children from September, will the UK follow the EU and the United States, who have effectively sent tens of thousands to their graves in the developing world by denying them life-saving vaccines? Or will we rise above this egotism and admit the needlessness of vaccinating children, and instead ship our remaining doses to those who actually need them? The stakes have never been higher for ‘Global Britain’.