Showing: 1 - 2 of 2 RESULTS

Trying to reach herd immunity to the coronavirus is ‘unethical’ and unprecedented, WHO head says

“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a Monday media briefing. “It is scientifically and ethically problematic.”

In a public health context, herd immunity typically describes a scenario in which a large enough share of the population is vaccinated against a disease to prevent it from spreading widely, thereby providing default protection to a minority of people who have not been vaccinated.

But as there is still no vaccine for the coronavirus, achieving herd immunity in the current environment would require a large number of people to contract the virus, survive covid-19, and then produce sufficient antibodies to provide long-term protection.

While the scientific community has roundly rejected herd immunity the approach, public interest in it has waxed and waned amid pressure to reopen schools and economies.

Last month, President Trump appeared to praise the idea during a town hall in Pennsylvania.

“You’ll develop herd — like a herd mentality,” he said. “It’s going to be — it’s going to be herd developed — and that’s going to happen.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government initially expressed interest in the theory before backtracking amid public outcry over the dangers of letting the virus spread. Johnson himself was hospitalized with a severe case of covid-19, which he said could have killed him.

Tedros, noting that there had been “some discussion” about the concept recently, told reporters Monday that allowing people to be exposed to a deadly virus whose effects are still not fully known was “not an option.”

“Most people who are infected with the virus that causes covid-19 develop an immune response within the first few weeks, but we don’t know how strong or lasting that immune response is, or how it differs for different people,” he said.

Antibody studies suggest that less than 10 percent of people in most countries have contracted covid-19, Tedros said, which is nowhere near the majority that would be needed for herd immunity.

With the “vast majority” of the world’s population susceptible, letting the virus spread “means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death,” he said.

Just in the last four days, Tedros said Monday, the global coronavirus count has continued to break its daily record for the number of new confirmed infections.

“Many cities and countries are also reporting an increase in hospitalizations and intensive care bed occupancy,” he added.

Tedros has urged governments to pursue comprehensive plans that include widespread testing, social distancing, and other preventive measures, such as face-mask wearing, alongside a global push to develop a vaccine. The WHO is spearheading an effort to distribute coronavirus vaccines equitably once they are available, which Trump declined to join.

Source Article

Herd immunity strategy is ‘simply unethical,’ says WHO

The head of the World Health Organization warned against the idea that herd immunity might be a realistic strategy to stop the pandemic, dismissing such proposals as “simply unethical.”

At a media briefing on Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said health officials typically aim to achieve herd immunity by vaccination. Tedros noted that to obtain herd immunity from a highly infectious disease such as measles, for example, about 95 percent of the population must be immunized.

“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” he said. Some researchers have argued that allowing COVID-19 to spread in populations that are not obviously vulnerable will help build up herd immunity and is a more realistic way to stop the pandemic, instead of the restrictive lockdowns that have proved economically devastating.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak,” Tedros said.

Tedros said that too little was known about immunity to COVID-19 to know if herd immunity is even achievable.

“We have some clues, but we don’t have the complete picture,” he said, noting that WHO had documented instances of people becoming reinfected with coronavirus after recovering from an initial bout of the virus. Tedros said that while most people appear to develop some kind of immune response, it’s unclear how long that lasts or how robust that protection is — and that different people have varying responses.

“Allowing a dangerous virus that we don’t fully understand to run free is simply unethical,” he said.

WHO estimates less than 10 percent of the population has any immunity to the coronavirus, meaning the vast majority of the world remains susceptible.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Tedros also noted countries had reported record-high daily figures of COVID-19 to the U.N. health agency for the last four days, citing surges in Europe and the Americas in particular.

Source Article