Experts slam ‘dangerous fallacy’ of virus herd immunity

Henrietta Brewer
October 17, 2020

"The evidence is very clear: controlling community spread of COVID-19 is the best way to protect our societies and economies until safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics arrive within the coming months", the scientists wrote. President Donald Trump's science adviser Dr. Scott Atlas also hails from Stanford and has previously advocated for reaching herd immunity by ending lockdowns and eliminating mandates on mask-wearing and social-distancing.

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 Great Barrington Declaration argues that lockdowns "are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health", including fewer cancer screenings, lower childhood vaccination rates and deteriorating mental health.

While emphasizing vigilance in protecting the vulnerable, the GBD classifies school closings as "a grave injustice" and asserts that "those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal", while incorporating "simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick".

The authors acknowledge that ongoing restrictions have understandably 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, and say that any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed. "Our goal ought to due to this fact be to reduce mortality and social hurt till we attain herd immunity".

While critics of public health measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus-including Dr. Scott Atlas, a top White House adviser on the pandemic who has no public health expertise-have pointed to Sweden's approach as one the US should emulate, the organizations note that the country has the highest mortality rate in Scandinavia after failing to implement an early and robust economic shutdown.

But the rest of the scientific community are at odds with the idea of letting thousands, if not millions, become unnecessarily infected with coronavirus and risk death. "It is illogical to ignore public health and scientific evidence when so many lives are at stake".

"Herd immunity isn't a method, however a scientifically confirmed phenomena, similar to gravity, and you wouldn't say that an airplane pilot is utilizing a "gravity technique" to land a airplane".

"We just don't really understand coronavirus immunology well enough to know whether this is going to be a minor, moderate or major concern", Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told The Hill.

With one of its proponents working at Oxford, the Great Barrington Declaration has raised alarm in the United Kingdom as well as the U.S. On Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that the document is underpinned by two "emphatically false" claims.

The letter comes after USA media reports said the White House had thrown its support behind an online declaration by a group of scientists who were advocating for herd immunity. Gravity exists and herd immunity exists ... "This is simply not possible.Whenever we've seen cases of young people rise sharply, we then see cases among the over-60s rise inevitably thereafter".

"We don't want to shut down the country".

Due to the fact that there is no COVID vaccination, it would be unethical to apply herd immunity to a virus that scientists are learning more about every single day.

Other reports by iNewsToday