The voices of those who opposed herd immunity rose yesterday and today together from the director of the NIH to his director of the department of infectious diseases to the 80 scientists who had signed a letter to the head of WHO.
Using words like “unethical,” “dangerous” and “nonsense,” the naysayers of the so-called Great Barrington Declaration went to Airwaves and cyberspace and tried to offer counterpoints to that declaration. The White House is in line with those who signed the declaration. President Trump has long advocated herd immunity in order to maintain some normalcy while protecting the vulnerable.
But COVID-19 is not a candidate for that approach, the naysayers said.
“This is a fringe component of epidemiology,” said Dr. Frank Collins. “This is not mainstream science. It is dangerous. It fits into the political views of certain sections of our confused political establishment, ”said Dr. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. “I’m sure it’ll be an idea that someone can wrap themselves up to skip wearing masks or social distancing and just do what they damn well like.” He made his comments in the Washington Post.
Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the NIH’s Infectious Diseases Division, posted his on Yahoo! News.
“Anyone who knows anything about epidemiology will tell you that this is nonsense and very dangerous.” If you do, you will have killed many people by the time you achieve herd immunity [which] would have been avoidable. “
The 80 scientists commented on The Lancet on October 15. “Any pandemic control strategy that relies on COVID-19’s immunity to natural infections is flawed,” they write.
Since there is (so far) no evidence to prove a protective immunity against the virus in the event of natural contraction, the resulting virus transmission would be “the result of a decrease in immunity [which] would pose an indefinite risk to vulnerable populations, “they wrote.
Herd immunity would lead to recurring epidemics.
However, the authors of the declaration say that they too have the wellbeing of the citizens at their core. “We have dedicated our careers to protecting people,” they wrote. The current bans would result in “lower vaccination rates in children, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and worsening mental health.” The authors and signatories come from respected institutions. These include: Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Cambridge, the Swedish Karolinska Institute, and Stanford.
These scientists advocate allowing those who are not susceptible to the virus to be allowed to resume normal life. As the virus spreads among them, “the risk of infection for everyone – including those at risk” decreases. They also said that measures should be taken to protect the elderly: have groceries delivered, meet family outside their homes, and so on. Barrington’s signatories said herd immunity can only occur in about 20% of the population, while those in the opposite camp said the number should be much higher.
What is particularly flawed about the explanation, said Dr. Fauci, is that the authors assume that the vulnerable are living in sheltered facilities, but that is not necessarily true. The other problem is that many people who contract the virus are likely to develop serious complications because of their existing health problems such as heart disease and obesity.
According to Johns Hopkins University, almost 217,000 people in this country have died as a result of the coronavirus.