Francis Collins: Children Under 12 Wearing Masks is ‘Really Smart Thing to Do’ and ‘Sacrifice Worth Making’

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This Sunday, the public also heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci’s boss, Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the NIH. On “Fox News Sunday,” Dr. Collins spoke with Dana Perino, who was filling in for Chris Wallace.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced new guidelines that students, staff, and teachers at K-12 schools wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

Of particular interest and concern, then, is the idea of children under 12, who are not even eligible to be vaccinated yet, should have to wear masks. Such guidelines have drawn particular ire.

As Perino and Collins discussed:

PERINO: …Do you think it’s necessary for children to have to be masked in schools as they start,  you know, in the next couple of weeks?

COLLINS:  Well, if the goal here is to reduce transmission of this virus amongst children who are not completely immune from getting seriously ill, or having them pass it on to others in their households, the masks are the best thing we’ve got right now to reduce that. I know people are frustrated. And I know people are frustrated and it has gotten very political and people are looking for someone to blame. Just put all that aside and look at the facts. Delta is as contagious as we now know it is, and we want to try to put an end to what is a very significant uptick right now. Wearing masks, if you’re under 12 and can’t be vaccinated, when you’re school is a really smart thing to do. And I know it’s tiresome and kids and their parents are sick of it. But let’s think about what we’re talking about, life and death here. We’ve lost 620,000 Americans already. If we could save even a few of those by putting masks on ourselves and our kids, well, it seems like the right thing to do.

PERINO:  And then at some point don’t we have to accept that there will be some risk?

COLLINS:  Oh, there is risk in being alive right now, for sure, and risk in going around your business which I think we’re all determined to try to do and avoid lockdowns, which is something we don’t want to have to go back to. But if we’re going to be able to continue, whether in business or in school, to do things that we all really value, putting the mask on is the best way to ensure that things don’t get worse. So it seems like a sacrifice worth making. 

Perino was likely bringing up the argument that we cannot live in a completely risk-free society, and viewers surely could have benefited from hearing a better response from Collins there.

Collins make reference to the 620,000 Americans who died from COVID. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which used numbers updated July 22:

Mortality (43 states, NYC, PR and GU reported)*

  • Children were 0.00%-0.26% of all COVID-19 deaths, and 8 states reported zero child deaths
  • In states reporting, 0.00%-0.03% of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in death

As was covered in May, New York Magazine‘s Intelligencer used data from Hospital Pediatrics to report that “New Research Suggests Number of Kids Hospitalized for COVID Is Overcounted.”

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