In DepthCOVID-19

Data in paper about Swedish schoolchildren come under fire

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Science  05 Mar 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6533, pp. 973-974
DOI: 10.1126/science.371.6533.973

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  • RE: Threats to researchers should not go unnoticed
    • Jonathan Bergman, PhD student, Umeå University
    • Other Contributors:
      • Marcel Ballin, PhD student, Umeå University
      • Peter Nordström, Professor, Umeå University

    Ms. Vogel criticizes Swedish epidemiologist Jonas Ludvigsson for a research letter in which he concludes, based on Swedish data, that schools should remain open during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Ms. Vogel’s criticism includes the data analysis, which has been questioned by Bodil Malmberg, a private citizen. It also includes Mr. Ludvigsson’s apparent support for Sweden’s controversial COVID-19 strategy.

    We welcome a discussion of the relevance of Mr. Ludvigsson’s research question, the accuracy of the data analysis, and the appropriateness of the conclusions. We also welcome criticism of Sweden’s COVID-19 strategy, whether it come from Sweden or abroad, from expert or layman, as we believe that both scientific and societal progress are stimulated by open discussions. However, we want to shed light on a more sinister aspect of the debate concerning Mr. Ludvigsson.

    Since his research letter, Mr. Ludvigsson has endured thousands of hate messages and threats. On social media, he has been described as “a sick person” who “wants people to die” and is “operating in the spirit of Swedish racial biologists” (1). Consequently, he has publicly stated that he will stop studying COVID-19 (2).

    Ms. Vogel’s article is well-written and she is certainly not responsible for the hate and threats. However, the article implicitly questions Mr. Ludvigsson’s qualifications by pointing out that his previous research is mainly in gastroenterology. Althoug...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Questionable Data Throw School Openings During COVID-19 Under a Spotlight

    Opening schools in Sweden during the early months of a pandemic might be regarded as a courageous decision, especially if the safety of school children cannot be guaranteed through a lack of information regarding the precautions that should be taken.

    Children have not been tested in clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines, so the safety, efficacy, and durability of vaccines as applied to children are not yet known, though it is known that asymptomatic children can transmit the disease to adults, especially the aged.

    The herd immunity strategy of protecting the most vulnerable in society via vaccination while establishing protection through infection for the rest of the population relies on recovery of those who have not been vaccinated.

    Staff at schools have been infected, while the emerging mutated strains and variants from the UK, South Africa, Brazil, USA, India, and Russia will likely increase transmission and infection, as well as recovery.

    Protecting all cohorts in society is essential during a pandemic, and questionable data throw school openings during COVID-19 under a spotlight.

    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • Cause of excess death, not disease related

    Dear publishers,
    the day before publishing this article new data had been obtained by the leading, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
    It is unfortunate that you did not (at least not obviously to me) incorporated that statistical data. It shows excess death in the age group was solely due to non-disease cause.
    Source (in Swedish):

    Competing Interests: None declared.

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