No herd immunity without vaccines

Herd immunity has recently been discussed as a desirable result of wide-scale vaccination programs. (High levels of vaccination-induced immunity in the population benefits those who can’t receive or sufficiently respond to a vaccine, such as people with compromised immune systems.) However, discussing herd immunity as a tool in the absence of vaccines has never been heard of before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. If you are tired and frustrated with distancing, lockdown and curfews and tempted by the notion of herd immunity (better: ‘herd protection’), read this brilliant article by Nature’s leading science writer Christie Aschwanden. Find out why proposals to largely let the virus run its course — embraced by Donald Trump’s administration and others — could bring untold death and suffering. Seasonal coronaviruses that cause common colds provoke a waning immunity that seems to last approximately a year. Until proof of the contrary, we should assume immunity to SARS-CoV-2 to be comparable. Without vaccines there will be no herd immunity in the foreseeable future.

Aschwanden C. The false promise of herd immunity for COVID-19. Nature News Feature October 21. Full-text:


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