An Infectious Disease Doctor Explains Why Striving For Herd Immunity From Covid-19 Is A Bad Idea - 2020-09-14
There has been conjecture in the news lately whether White House medical advisor, Dr. Scott Atlas, has endorsed a U.S. national response for pursuing "herd immunity." He has denied this, but there are others on social media and elsewhere who have endorsed the idea. This would be bad policy, for several reasons.
Before we get into that, though, here's a brief primer on herd immunity: it's a concept that usually applies to vaccines. The goal of achieving herd immunity is to vaccinate a high enough percent of a population to break the viral or bacterial chain of transmission between people. If enough people are vaccinated, the immunity of the "herd" of people protects those individuals who may not be able to receive a vaccine.
The percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated depends on how contagious the infectious agent is. For measles, which is the most contagious virus known, up to 95% of the population must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. The SARS-CoV-2 virus (that causes COVID-19 illness) is not as contagious but estimates suggest that 50-70% of the population must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.