Scientists debunk Covid-19 herd immunity as a ‘dangerous fallacy’

  • Scientists debunk Covid-19 herd immunity as a ‘dangerous fallacy’

Scientists debunk Covid-19 herd immunity as a ‘dangerous fallacy’

But it's almost impossible to protect all Americans who are elderly or are otherwise saddled with underlying conditions that put them at higher risk of death from COVID-19.

The letter comes after numerous U.S. media this week reported that senior Trump administration officials had voiced support for an online declaration advocating herd immunity which gathered more than 9,000 signatories worldwide.

The World Health Organization has been warning for months that herd immunity for Covid-19 was impossible without untold casualties.

As a second Covid-19 wave batters Europe, several countries have reintroduced controls on movement and implemented regionalised lockdowns.

The authors acknowledge that ongoing restrictions have led to widespread demoralisation and diminishing trust among the public, and that in the face of a second wave of infection there is renewed interest in so-called "natural herd immunity" approaches, allowing a large uncontrolled outbreak in the low-risk population while protecting the vulnerable. Some have argued this could lead to the development of infection-acquired population immunity in the low-risk population, which will eventually protect the vulnerable.

"Herd immunity is a flawed goal without a vaccine, even if we could get to it, which we can't".

The almost 10,000 medical and public health signatories, who are mostly anonymous until the declaration is approved, call their method "Focused Protection".

"Letting the virus circulate unchecked therefore means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death".

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, on Thursday called herd immunity and implications from The Great Barrington Declaration "nonsense and very risky", when it comes to stopping the spread of coronavirus in the U.S.

The researchers warned that there is now no evidence of permanent protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection. This lack of data builds upon another unknown: how often people can get reinfected by the disease, which has already been reported in a handful of cases.

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

What's more, the infection fatality rate of COVID-19 is "several-fold higher than that of seasonal influenza, and infection can lead to persisting illness, including in young, previously healthy people", the scientists write in the open letter.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said herd immunity is "very risky".

"I'm extremely concerned that the president is being advised by people who speak of herd immunity", Haseltine said, adding: "herd immunity is another word for mass murder".

Earlier this week, World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that allowing the spread of unsafe virus we don't fully understand was unethical.

Instead, he recommends contact tracing, isolation of infected individuals, physical distancing, continued testing and simple hygiene like hand washing as a way to combat the virus.