More than 12,000 experts condemn ‘herd immunity’ as solution to COVID-19

Doctors warn against herd immunity
Doctors warn against herd immunity(WBRC)
Published: Oct. 18, 2020 at 1:31 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Everyone is understandably suffering from COVID fatigue, but experts say the way out of the pandemic is not through exposing more people to the virus.

Herd immunity is a concept associated with a vaccine, and without a vaccine, we aren’t anywhere close.

More than 12,000 infectious disease experts backed a statement this week issued by the Infectious Disease Society of America that condemned herd immunity as the solution to the pandemic including UAB’s Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo.

To understand why, it helps to go back to smallpox.

“We’ve eliminated smallpox, in fact eradicated it, meaning there are no active cases in the world, because we made a vaccine and did pretty much universal vaccination in fact to the point where we don’t have to vaccinate against it anymore, it’s gone,” said Dr. Marrazzo.

There is emerging evidence that those who contract COVID-19 can be reinfected, which means they do not become immune to it.

Abandoning precautions and encouraging the spread of the virus would be dangerous for the elderly, minorities and those with health issues.

“Your risk of dying from this infection or having significant problems from it is really high,” she said of those people.

While it isn’t the easiest answer, she says the safest bet is continuing precautions until we have a vaccine.

“I think the thinking with this virus is that it’s just going to keep spreading like wildfire, infecting people, killing people and probably reinfecting people until we develop a vaccine,” said Dr. Marrazzo.

She estimates at least another 6 months of using precautions, because when a vaccine is released it will be a while before it is accessible.

To read the full Infectious Disease Society statement, click here.

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