The danger of herd immunity in solving the COVID-19 problem
Herd immunity, and it's a concept some leaders and scientists have considered when it comes to responding to this pandemic. NPR's Jeff Broomfield reports on what exactly this idea is and why it presents troubles. The thinking goes like this. Sooner or later, the pandemic cast stand and Debbie shredder gets it like everyone wants a way out psychologically right, because no one's ever coped with something of this scale, and it's not like a crisis like a hurricane or 9 11 where it's like, time bound or geographically bound. This is like everyone everywhere for indefinitely right now appeals to people, right? Treaters of researcher at the University of Edinburgh Medical School in the UK, and it turns out there is a theoretical way it could end. If enough people get sick and recover and they become immune to the corona virus. Then the pandemic fizzles. Those who haven't gotten it yet are safe. The technical name for this is herd immunity in its purest form. It's like Darwinian self selection, right? We let the virus go. Whoever is going to die, I will die. That's life and then whoever makes it we'll have hopefully some form of immunity. Several governments tried with the idea of the beginning of the pandemic, including the U. K, But in the end, most decided it would cost too many lives. There was one exception Sweden. They kept businesses open and let people make their own choices. At one point, Swedish officials said Stockholm would returned immunity by the end of May, but they have not reached it by the end of May. They just lost a lot of lives and also took an economic it shredder says. Herd immunity works as a math problem, but at an individual level Swedes stayed home. People don't want to catch Cove it nobody wants to be part of the herd to stay that way. But could nations eventually reach herd immunity more slowly? Probably not, says Jeffrey Shaymen of Columbia University. So example, I like to think about it. South Korea. They're getting 50 cases a day right now. They will hold on for another 1000 days, which is almost three years that have 50,000 cases, which is 30.1% of their population. Most experts think herd immunity take somewhere between 50 to 80% of the population, even in the U. S. Even it's 60,000 cases a day. It'll take at least into 2021 possibly years more to reach those levels. And there's another looming problem. People may be able to get the Corona virus more than once, shame and has studied other Corona viruses that cause common colds, and he found people could be re infected. Some of them were 48 weeks separated from the previous infection, which is rapid and that might have been a relapse. But others we clearly know are different. They were 8 to 11 months apart. Greta Bauer is an epidemiologist at Western University in Ontario, she says this fall and winter maybe the time we find out about re infections, and if Covitz survivors get even mildly sick, the second time around Corona virus will keep circulating. If that were the situation, then there's no potential to develop a level of herd immunity sufficient to stop the infection. I corresponded with 16 different scientists, and almost all believed that achieving herd immunity as a practical matter was virtually impossible. Without a vaccine with the vaccine. It will be a lot easier to control the virus, but it will likely still exist in pockets around the world. So what's going to happen again? Researcher devilish reader I think it's going to be with us play forever. At this point, I think I mean at a global scale, it's going to be with us, and it's how we decide to live with it. There are ways to live with it. Test the sick, isolate them until they're better and everybody where a mask and keep their distance.