SAGE graph suggests teachers are at very low risk of catching coronavirus from kids – The Sun

A GRAPH from the Government's top scientists has revealed teachers are at a very low risk of catching coronavirus from children.

The data drop from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) comes as Government ministers try to assure parents and teachers it is safe for kids to head back to schools.

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The graph suggests that children are much less likely to pass the virus on to others even if they do catch it.

It comes alongside an evidence review used by UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health Professor Russell Viner looking at studies from Australian schools suggesting the chances of children passing on the virus were very unlikely.

The evidence in a document released by Downing street today said: "In primary school 6 cases resulted in 168 contacts and in one potential child contracting disease.

"In high schools, 12 cases had 695 contacts; ⅓ had contacts, all of which were negative.

"75 high school contacts had (antibody tests) 1 month after contact, with 1 student only (and no staff) having antibodies suggestive of infection."

But the documents also stressed that evidence on children transmitting the disease was inconclusive.

They said: "Evidence remains inconclusive on both the susceptibility and infectivity of children, but the balance of evidence suggests that both may be lower than in adults."

The documents also warned the impact lockdown was having on kids was causing a "shock" that would affect their work prospects for the rest of their lives.

Hardline teachers unions are in the middle of an almighty row with the Government over the reopening of schools on June 1, and have issued a 169 point checklist that must be fulfilled before teachers will go back to their posts.

The Joint Secretary of the National Education Union Dr Mary Bousted claimed the findings showed the planned return was “too soon”.

She said: “We think it’s just descending into chaos now and it’s not funny.

“The evidence is still not there, we now have the Independent Sage Committee saying give it two weeks then we’ll have half as much chance of catching the virus.

“This is just really confusing for parents, it’s very difficult for school leavers having to make decisions on inadequate scientific evidence.”

Only a handful of councils plan to reopen schools on June 1, leaving parents across the country in the dark over their children's education.

The final decision on whether or not to open up classrooms will fall to headteachers.

Analysis by The Sun showed at least 28 local authorities – which govern 2,269 primary schools – are preparing to defy Government advice and not reopen schools.

The information released by Sage runs contrary to a report released by a rival group of experts – the Independent Sage group – who said pushing the reopening of schools back by just two weeks would halve the risk to children. 


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The Sage Files: China's coronavirus cases 10 TIMES higher than claimed

The Sage Files: UK scientists believe that coronavirus cases in China are TEN TIMES higher than claimed – as communist state’s ambassador warns Tory MPs their criticism of the Beijing regime could ‘poison’ relations

  • Documents show UK scientists believe cases vastly higher than Beijing admits
  • Fuels claim that China has questions to answer over its handling of the outbreak 
  • Chinese ambassador Lui Xiaoming made warning to critical MPs in webinar 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

China underplayed the scale of the coronavirus outbreak and may have suffered ten times as many cases as it has confirmed, documents released today suggest. 

Documents released today from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) show that UK scientists believed that the number of cases was vastly higher than admitted by Beijing.  

They do not accuse the authoritarian regime of lying but the revelation in Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) minutes released today will fuel claims that China has questions to answer over its handling of the outbreak.

It also suggests that deaths from the outbreak in China could be many times higher than the 4,300 so far admitted to. 

In the US, President Donald Trump is blaming China for covering-up the lethality of coronavirus and colluding with the WHO to let it spread around the world while Beijing saved face. 

Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also say they have seen ‘overwhelming’ evidence that the virus was accidentally leaked from a lab near Wuhan. 

A raft of documents from Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) meetings over the past few months on coronavirus were released today.

Chinese ambassador in the UK Lui Xiaoming warned Tory MPs critical of his regime that ongoing animosity could ‘poison’ Sino-British relations

It came as the Chinese ambassador in the UK Lui Xiaoming warned Tory MPs critical of his regime that their ongoing animosity could ‘poison’ Sino-British relations.

Speaking in a China-Britain Business Council webinar today, he said: ‘Such talks are a political virus.

‘If they go unchecked they’ll poison UK-China relations and even international solidarity.’

He insisted that the outbreak in his country was ‘under control’. 

Afterwards the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We have continued to work with all of our international partners including China on the global response to this pandemic. 

‘The First Secretary of State (Dominic Raab) has also talked about the fact that once this response is over there are questions that need to be answered about the origin and the spread of the virus.’

A raft of documents from Sage meetings over the past few months on coronavirus were released today. 

They included a statement from a sub-committee on modelling contagious disease outbreaks on February 3.

It noted: ‘The number of confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in China is estimated to be at least 10 times higher than the number currently confirmed.’ 

Downing Street has said China has ‘questions to answer’ over the outbreak and many Try MPs have voiced their own anger.

The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace yesterday reignited the war of words over whether China suppressed information about the virus – whose first cases were reported in Wuhan – which prevented other countries from taking steps to save more lives.

It came as Donald Trump’s US administration scaled up its rhetoric over Chinese culpability, with the president accusing the communist state of a cover-up after making a ‘horrible mistake’.

The SAGE files: Government science experts warned ministers ‘immunity certificates’ mean firms could discriminate against those who haven’t had coronavirus – and desperate workers could TRY to get infected

Employers could shun workers who have not had coronavirus after lockdown, prompting people to actively try to catch the disease, the government’s science experts warned ministers. 

Secret documents prepared by the independent Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) last month outlined the potential drawbacks of introducing widespread antibody testing and so-called ‘immunity certificates’. 

Such tests would show if someone has had the disease and if they have some degree of immunity with accompanying digital certificates then showing employers the health status of staff.

Antibody tests are viewed as one of the key pieces in the puzzle when it comes to getting the UK back to work. 

But SPI-B, a sub-committee of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said introducing the tests could result in people trying to ‘game’ the system. 

The documents suggest workers who do not have antibodies could be discriminated against, effectively creating two classes of employee, with those who have had the disease prized because of a belief that they will not get ill again. 

Those who are antibody negative could then turn to trying to obtain fake test results or even trying to get ill on purpose to boost their chances of returning to work.

Meanwhile, the documents also warned positive tests could result in people wrongly thinking they no longer need to wash their hands, risking an increase in the transmission of the disease. 

Those who are antibody negative could also be too afraid to leave home and could refuse to return to work, the group said. 

The warnings about antibody testing came as separate documents showed scientists were urging Boris Johnson to tell people to stop shaking hands on the same day that he boasted he was still shaking hands with ‘everybody’. 

Newly-released records on the advice given to the government as the coronavirus crisis erupted show Mr Johnson seemingly flouted the recommendations from his own experts.

A meeting of the behavioural group that feeds into SAGE on March 3 concluded that ‘Government should advise against greetings such as shaking hands and hugging, given existing evidence about the importance of hand hygiene’. 

Boris Johnson, pictured in St James’ Park this morning, was warned by the government’s science experts that antibody testing and ‘immunity certificates’ could have unintended negative consequences

Mr Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have relied heavily on advice from Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance during the crisis. The four are pictured in Downing Street on March 12

Scientists advised against shaking hands on same day Boris Johnson said he was still shaking hands with ‘everybody’

Scientists were urging Boris Johnson to tell people to stop shaking hands the same day the PM was boasting about shaking hands with ‘everybody’, it was revealed today. 

Newly-released records on the advice given to the government as the coronavirus crisis erupted show Mr Johnson seemingly flouted the recommendations from his own experts.

A meeting of the behavioural group that feeds into SAGE on March 3 concluded that ‘Government should advise against greetings such as shaking hands and hugging, given existing evidence about the importance of hand hygiene’. 

‘A public message against shaking hands has additional value as a signal about the importance of hand hygiene,’ the Independent Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) said. 

‘Promoting a replacement greeting or encouraging others to politely decline a proffered hand-shake may have benefit.’

However, that evening Mr Johnson told a press conference in Downing Street that he ‘continued to shake hands’ and the important thing was washing them.   

He said: ‘I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were a few coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands. 

‘People obviously can make up their own minds but I think the scientific evidence is… our judgement is that washing your hands is the crucial thing.’ 

A mass-produced antibody test which is accurate enough to be rolled out at a national level is yet to be identified by any country in the world. 

But the UK government is hoping for a breakthrough in the near future with the tests viewed as one of the keys to getting Britain back to work. 

Ministers are in talks with tech firms about developing an ‘immunity certificate’ app which would show if someone has been tested and if they have coronavirus antibodies.

The SPI-B committee was tasked with examining the potential negative outcomes of introducing antibody testing. 

Documents written on April 13 and finally published today show such a regime could have devastating unintended consequences.  

The experts warned that ‘some employers may discriminate on the basis of antibody status’.

That could include not allowing people who have tested negative to return to work or only hiring people who are antibody positive. 

The group said that could prompt people to try to cheat the system or to try to catch coronavirus.

The experts wrote: ‘If a test result is a requirement for a resumption of work, a range of strategies to “game” the system may arise. 

‘These include people deliberately seeking out infection or attempting to purchase a fake test result, commercial organisations selling unapproved tests, or approved tests becoming available through private organisations at prices that make them unavailable to most.’

Meanwhile, those workers who have not had coronavirus could be too afraid to go outside, reducing their social contact to unhealthy levels, and some could simply refuse to return to work. 

The group said: ‘It is possible that people told they have not yet had the virus may feel more vulnerable and wish to avoid specific activities at work that pose a risk to their health, or seek to avoid attendance at work entirely.’

The group also expressed major concerns that positive tests could drastically alter people’s behaviour.

Those who have tested positive for antibodies may wrongly ‘believe they have no chance of becoming infected with COVID-19 in the future’. 

That means that if they developed the key symptoms of a cough or fever they may not think they need to self-isolate, increasing the risk of infecting others. 

Experts: More than 12 coronavirus strains were spreading across UK in March

At least a dozen different strains of coronavirus were spreading through the UK in March, a Government-funded study has found.

Leading genetic scientists analysed the genomes of the killer virus in 260 infected patients from all corners of the UK.

They say they have identified 12 unique lines of the virus, one of which has only ever been found in Britain – meaning it mutated on UK soil.

But the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) said the number of strains ‘is very likely substantially higher’ due to under-sampling in the UK.

The scientists say most of the strains were imported from Italy and Spain, the worst-hit countries in the world at the time the research was carried out.

There is no suggestion that any of the strains are any more potent or infectious than another, infectious disease experts say.

People who test positive could also stop washing their hands, the scientists said, which would also boost transmission.  

Scientists are yet to determine with 100 per cent certainty whether people who have had coronavirus have a high level of resistance to the disease. They are also trying to establish whether that immunity could wane over time. But total immunity has already been ruled out.  

The SPI-B group also raised concerns about the accuracy of the tests and the potential for people to be given a false sense of protection. 

For example, if five per cent of tests were actually incorrect then thousands of workers could wrongly believe they are safe from the disease. 

This would have particularly bad consequences if people with positive antibody tests decided to volunteer for high coronavirus exposure jobs, the group said.

‘Some testing “Antibody Positive” may actively volunteer to take on activities at work with high exposure to COVID-19,’ the experts said. 

‘This might include customer-facing roles or tasks within health or social care that involve greater contact with COVID-19 patients. 

‘This would be particularly problematic if the test result was incorrect.’ 

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