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Herd immunity: The government’s “magic solution” to coronavirus doesn’t make sense

There has been a fair amount of chatter in the past few hours about “herd immunity” – supposedly the UK government’s magic solution to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Writing for ITV this morning, the broadcaster’s Political Editor Robert Peston says:

“The strategy of the British government in minimising the impact of Covid-19 is to allow the virus to pass through the entire population so that we acquire herd immunity.”

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So we decided to do a bit of digging into this concept, and – well – it doesn’t really make sense.

Indeed, it seems as though “herd immunity” only works if a large proportion of the population is vaccinated against a disease.

And, as we all well know, there is no available vaccination for coronavirus.

In a blog for the Oxford Vaccine Group in 2016, Dr Manish Sadarangani states:

“For herd immunity to work a large proportion of the population need to be vaccinated.”

Blog entitled: “Herd Immunity: How does it work?”

Dr Sadarangani is the Sauder Chair in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of British Columbia.

Moreover, as Stephanie Watson writes for the online health publication WebMD:

“To have herd immunity and protect lots of people from disease, a very high percentage of people in any one area need to be vaccinated. This is called the threshold.”

Watson in turn quotes Michael Brady, MD – associate medical director at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, and a member of the hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases – who says: “The more contagious a disease is, the higher percentage you need.”

For herd immunity to stop the spread of measles, for example, you need between 93% and 95% of the population to be vaccinated.

What’s the number of people to have been vaccinated from coronavirus, worldwide? Zero.

The government might argue that herd immunity would kick in if enough people are infected with coronavirus. However, even if the death rate is just 1%, if 90% of the population caught the disease, that’s over half a million deaths.

Correct me if I’m wrong, Mr Cummings, but to me your plan sounds like total bullsh*t.

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