DUBLIN: The concept of herd immunity is being misinterpreted, says Irish Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan. Herd immunity is a concept that relates to immunisation or vaccination. The CMO explained that there was no basis for herd immunity in relation to COVID-19.
This concept has been frequently mentioned since the beginning of the Pandemic. Moreover, the propaganda is that by allowing the virus to spread across communities, preventive measures can be held back and even lockdowns can be avoided. It is also said to develop natural immunity. But the CMO said there is no basis for this.
Earlier this month, the CMO pointed out that the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had issued a warning against the herd immunity concept. Tedros said the process had never been used as a response to an outbreak of an infectious disease.
“Herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached,” he said.
If measles infects and if 95% of the population are vaccinated, the remaining 5% will be protected from the virus. For polio, this limit is estimated at 80%.
“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” Tedros said. The WHO warns that this is not an option. There is no basis for recommending its application in this environment as a serious health policy.
In the early days of COVID-19, it seemed that the UK government was pursuing such a strategy. Then came the lockdown proceedings, with a sharp rise in cases, hospitalisations and deaths. It is also pointed out that the UK has changed from that concept.
“Allowing a dangerous virus that we don’t fully understand to run free is simply unethical. It’s not an option,” Tedros said.
He also stressed the long-term health problems of the infection that researchers are beginning to understand. He noted that in most countries, less than 10% of the population is infected.
The National Public Health Emergency Team’s epidemiological modelling advisory group chair Professor Philip Nolan, said that the functioning of the herd immunity is uncertain and morally questionable.