NEW DELHI : The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday dismissed the idea of herd immunity to fight covid-19 as “simply unethical.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General at WHO, said that herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it. It has never been used as a strategy to respond to an outbreak in the history of public health, let alone a pandemic.
“There has been some discussion recently about the concept of reaching so-called “herd immunity” . It is about letting the virus spread but herd immunity can protect the population from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.
The chief explained if 95% of a population is vaccinated against measles, the remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not affect the 95% For polio, the threshold is about 80%.
“First, we don’t know enough about immunity to covid-19. 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. We have some clues, but we don’t have the complete picture,” said Tedros.
Letting the virus circulate unchecked therefore means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death, the WHO maintained.
“It’s not a choice between letting the virus run free and shutting down our societies. This virus transmits mainly between close contacts and causes outbreaks that can be controlled by implementing targeted measures,” Tedros said.
“There have also been some examples of people infected with covid-19 being infected for a second time. Second, the vast majority of people in most countries remain susceptible to this virus,” he said.
WHO estimates less than 10% of the population has any immunity to the coronavirus, meaning the vast majority of the world remains susceptible.
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