Experts slam ‘dangerous fallacy’ of virus herd immunity

Experts slam ‘dangerous fallacy’ of virus herd immunity

"Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed", the scientists wrote in the open letter published Thursday in the journal The Lancet.

The researchers cautioned that there is now no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 after natural infection. "It would also place an unacceptable burden on the economy and health-care workers, many of whom have died from COVID-19 or experienced trauma as a result of having to practice disaster medicine".

In a call with reporters featuring two senior officials, the White House said it supports an October 4 petition called The Great Barrington Declaration that argues authorities should allow the virus to spread freely among young, healthy Americans while protecting older and vulnerable people.

Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a college class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last month that it's not clear what percent of the population would need to be infected to provide herd immunity from COVID-19, though it's likely to be 50% to 75% of the public.

This would present a risk to vulnerable populations for "the indefinite future", the authors said.

Regardless of the declaration suggesting that mortality and social hurt needs to be minimized till herd immunity is reached, one of many co-authors, Dr. Martin Kulldorff, beforehand advised KYR information by way of electronic mail, that they "usually are not advocating a "herd immunity technique".

"Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health", the declaration states, adding: "The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. It is illogical to ignore public health and scientific evidence when so many lives are at stake", the joint statement reads.

Among its lead authors is Dr. Jay Bhattacharya an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert from Stanford University.

The White House has embraced a declaration by a group of scientists urging free spread of the coronavirus among healthy young people in an effort to achieve "herd immunity" through widespread infection instead of a vaccine, The New York Times reports.

"We know that the natural history of coronavirus infections is that people can get reinfected over and over again", she said.

"We can not afford distractions that undermine an effective response; it is essential that we act urgently based on the evidence", the group writes.

Trying to reach herd immunity would result in a much higher death rate than the U.S. is experiencing, which is why the concept is not being seriously discussed in scientific circles, said Dr. George Rutherford, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California-San Francisco.

Referred to by its authors as the John Snow Memorandum, the open letter, which will also be launched during the 16th World Congress on Public Health programme 2020, is signed by 80 global researchers (as of publication) with expertise spanning public health, epidemiology, medicine, paediatrics, sociology, virology, infectious disease, health systems, psychology, psychiatry, health policy, and mathematical modelling.

A day before the town of Great Barrington took pains to distance itself from the declaration, a coalition of 17 public health organizations also condemned the scientists' proposal in a joint statement.

Related Articles