Letting COVID-19 spread to achieve herd immunity is “unethical,” WHO chief says

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The head of the World Health Organization warned Monday against suggestions by some to just allow COVID-19 to spread in the hope of achieving so-called herd immunity, saying this was “unethical.” “Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual press briefing. He explained that “herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.”He pointed out that for measles, for example, it is estimated that if 95% of the population is vaccinated, the remaining 5% will also be protected from the spread of the virus. For polio, the threshold is estimated at 80%. Herd immunity helps protect vulnerable people like infants and those with compromised immune systems who can’t get the vaccine.

However, Tedros said, “Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic.”According to Johns Hopkins University, 70% to 90% of Americans would need to have coronavirus antibodies for herd immunity to be achieved. But the nation is nowhere near that level yet, even though more …

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