The White House is flirting with a new strategy to implement as a means to end the coronavirus pandemic. Known as ‘herd immunity’, the idea is that the virus should run rampant among the population until every citizen has naturally developed antibodies to the virus. According to health experts, this strategy would lead to 70% of the population being infected, so that the pandemic would end. This administration, which asserts itself as ‘pro-life’, clearly does not value American life if it is seriously considering this approach.
Who is behind the ‘herd immunity’ strategy?
A group of scientists recently released a document in support of the herd immunity strategy. Titled the “Great Barrington Declaration,” it asserts that the most vulnerable groups in society should be targeted in “focused protection.” The document also suggests precautions, such as ramped up COVID-19 testing in facilities like nursing homes. The rest of the population would “resume life as normal.”
This declaration does not contain evidence or data that suggests herd immunity would legitimately end the pandemic. Additionally, many other scientists, physicians, public health experts, and other health professionals suggest otherwise. In a statement from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and its HIV Medical Association, 12,000 healthcare professionals condemn herd immunity.
“To assert that stepping away from the vigilance needed to control the spread of this novel coronavirus and that abdication of efforts to control a pandemic that has overwhelmed health systems worldwide is a ‘compassionate approach’ is profoundly misleading,” they write.
There are other options besides ‘herd immunity’ that work
Frankly, it’s absurd to assume that there are only two routes to end the pandemic. Shutting down the economy is a temporary bid for time to implement public health guidelines. Herd immunity will inevitably and unnecessarily infect and kill off millions of Americans. We don’t need to pick between the lesser of two evils. In fact, many other countries have been able to control the spread by reasonable means.
What have these countries done to contain the spread? They implemented simple public health measures, such as mandatory social distancing, contract tracing, and widespread testing. Additionally, many of these countries have enforced the quarantine for infected individuals. Another no-brainer for these countries — wearing masks is required. Countries with the lowest coronavirus spread, who have implemented such measures, include New Zealand, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Greenland.
Americans don’t need to die for this
In an interview with CNN, Dean of Brown University School of Public Health Dr. Ashish Jha also condemned herd immunity. Jha described herd immunity as a “terrible policy” that will inevitably lead to “hundreds of thousands of Americans dying unnecessarily.” He added that “no serious public health person actually thinks herd immunity is a good policy strategy.”
If public health guidelines have been successfully implemented and adhered to in other countries, who’s to say America can’t follow suit? As Jha said, Americans should not unnecessarily die just because the White House might consider it politically expedient. Additionally, it’s reprehensible to consider infecting Americans with a virus that demonstrably presents debilitating long-term health effects for many.
Additionally, Jha said that policymakers need to “start acting seriously about this.” It should be abundantly clear to the White House that they should value American lives in this crisis. As a strategy, herd immunity would lead to countless Americans being infected with, and dying from, the coronavirus.
And the economic argument for herd immunity is just as invalid. The reasoning is that if we open businesses and schools back up to full capacity, without any public health guidelines, we will be enabling people to become immune to the virus. This way, the population will achieve immunity quickly, compared to how things are now. Not only is this illogical, but the economic argument prioritizes capitalism over human life.
How long will it take America to realize that it’s possible to contain the coronavirus through simple public health guidelines?
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