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

  1. The coronavirus is the opportunity that the Conservative government has been waiting for for years. It will reduce the size of the elderly population above 60 and kill the sick at the same time thus saving a fortune on paying pensions and the NHS! Bastards!

      1. On the contrary the idiot working class voters are the very ones that kept these pigs in power, demonstrating quite clearly that an intelligence test is needed before the electoral franchise is exercised.

  2. There is no immunisation except (possibly) survival from the disease because the herd immunity hypothesis assumes that you cannot get the disease twice, and that if you are subsequently infected but asymptomatic, you are still no longer infectious. No-one knows yet.

    It will be cheaper for the health service if the unhealthy and elderly die prematurely. And closing the schools means that the already heavily overworked NHS staff will have to take breaks for child care, making it worse, or will expose their children to others anyway unless all nursery and after school child care is also cancelled.

    With chicken pox, parents rush to expose their children as for them the disease is relatively mild. It can still recur in adults as shingles but neither chicken pox nor shingles generally kill people.

    This is the result of 10 years of cuts to the NHS in staff, alientation by a hostile environment, an irresponsible Brexit and what happens when you have an amateur government of rich chancers who care not a jot for people.

    We are left to pray for a hot summer, which should kill the virus off. Maybe our wish will be granted.

    1. …. because, when the vulnerable emerge from their quarantine, they have no immunity to coronavirus. Then, when they encounter anybody who is infectious, they will get the illness and likely die. The idea of “herd immunity” was that it would protect against a second wave of the virus. However, the downside is that it affords no protection to the vulnerable whilst making it vastly more likely that they would be exposed to an infectious carrier of the disease. It is anticipated that it would kill between 1 and 3% of the population affected by it – Bojo claims 80% of the UK population, roughly 48 million, causing fatality levels of between 480 000 to 1.5 million (with 5 times these levels seriously ill and (broadly) twice these numbers requiring intensive care beds we don’t have.
      Not that “super-logical” an approach, after all!

  3. If you quarantine for 3 months the highest risk of death population….those above 70 or those with respiratory illnesses and then let the rest of us carry on as usual, just like the regular flu virus, we all get the virus, develop immunity. Brilliant! Please tell me why this approach isn’t super logical. It’s not worth ruining world economies over. I don’t really care about the number of infected people if we can keep the death rate low. Sequester the elderly and already sick. If we focused this much on the yearly influenza virus, there would be no economy left.
    Live, get sick, get better, carry on!!!! Protect the elderly!!!! done.

    1. Anyone know what the hospitalisation rate of non vulnerable people is? Is this won’t overrun the NHS I agree; Live, Get Sick, Get Better, Carry On. Just protect the vulnerable. Of course if the rate if high even in the healthy then this does not work so well!!!

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