Herd immunity approaches to COVID-19 management are a ‘harmful fallacy’

A group of 80 researchers warned that what is known as a herd immunity approach to treating COVID-19, which involves developing immunity in low-risk populations while protecting the most vulnerable, “is a dangerous fallacy that is not scientifically proven Knowledge is supported “.

In the face of a second wave of COVID-19 and more than a million deaths worldwide, the authors present their view on the scientific consensus about our understanding of COVID-19 and the strategies that must be put in place to protect our societies and economies.

The open letter, referred to by its authors as the John Snow Memorandum, is published today by The Lancet. It has been signed by 80 international researchers (at the time of publication) with expertise in public health, epidemiology, medicine, pediatrics, sociology, virology, infectious diseases, health systems, psychology, psychiatry, health policy and mathematical modeling. The letter will also be published during the 16th World Congress on the Public Health 2020 Program.

They state: “It is important to act decisively and urgently. Effective measures to suppress and control transmission must be fully implemented and supported by financial and social programs that stimulate community and EU responses eliminate increased inequalities. ” Pandemic.”

“Further restrictions are likely to be required in the short term to reduce transmission and address ineffective pandemic response systems to prevent future lockdowns. The purpose of these restrictions is to effectively suppress SARS-CoV-2 infections to a low level that enables a fast. ” Localized outbreak detection and rapid response through efficient and comprehensive systems to find, test, track, isolate, and assist in bringing life back to near normal with no general restrictions. Protecting our economies is inextricably linked with controlling COVID-19 must protect our workforce and avoid long-term uncertainties. “

The authors acknowledge that persistent restrictions have understandably led to widespread demoralization and declining public confidence, and that in the face of a second wave of infections, there is renewed interest in so-called natural herd immunity approaches (allowing for a large uncontrolled outbreak in the EU) population with low risk while protecting the vulnerable population, which some believe could lead to the development of infection-acquired immunity in the low risk population that will ultimately protect the vulnerable). They say any pandemic management strategy that relies on immunity to natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed.

They explain that uncontrolled transmission in younger people can lead to significant health and death cases across the population. It is evident from many countries that it is not possible to limit uncontrolled outbreaks to certain parts of society and that it is practically impossible and practical to isolate large sections of the population is highly unethical. Instead, they say that special efforts to protect the most vulnerable are essential but must be accompanied by population strategies at multiple levels.

They also state that there is no evidence of sustained protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection, and warn that this declining immunity as a result of natural infection would not end the COVID-19 pandemic, but it would repeat it Transmission waves would last over several years. They say this could endanger vulnerable populations indefinitely, as natural infection-based herd immunity strategies would lead to recurring epidemics, like many infectious diseases do before mass vaccination. Instead, the authors call for the virus to be suppressed until the population can be vaccinated.

The authors also caution that natural infection-based herd immunity approaches run the risk of compromising the entire workforce and overwhelming the health systems’ ability to provide acute and routine care. They state that we still do not understand who may have “long-term COVID” and that herd immunity approaches are placing an unacceptable burden on health care workers, many of whom have died from COVID-19 or have been trauma caused by medical disaster .

The letter concludes: “The evidence is very clear: Controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the community is the best way to protect our societies and economies until safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics arrive in the months ahead . We cannot afford distractions that undermine an effective response. ” ; It is important that we act on the evidence urgently. ”

UN warns against pursuing herd immunity to stop coronavirus

More information:
The Lancet (2020). DOI: 10.1016 / S0140-6736 (20) 32153-X

Quote: Herd immunity approaches to combating COVID-19 are a “dangerous error” (2020, October 15), published on October 15, 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-herd-immunity-approaches-covid -dangerous was retrieved. html

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