The Danger of Herd Immunity

Herd Immunity

Scott Atlas is President Trump’s latest favored adviser on the pandemic. He apparently replaced the “demon seed” doctor. The neuroradiologist has no expertise in public health or infectious disease prevention or treatment.  He hasn’t practiced medicine in decades. He pushes unscientific claims but Atlas has the capacity to tell the president what he wants to hear.

Atlas is urging Trump to let the virus spread. Early in this crisis, Trump promoted the notion that COVID-19 would “wash over” the US population “like the flu.” Atlas has rejected the need for testing. He agrees with Trump that schools and businesses should return to normal.

Atlas hopes this approach will achieve “herd immunity.”  This was first attempted in Britain to terrible result. Immunology experts have criticized the strategy of allowing people to become infected to develop “herd immunity” in the remote hope that “more vulnerable” do not contract the disease. Dr. Scott Gottlieb is the former commissioner of the FDA. He wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal against Trump’s approach.

Mortality Rate

Many people nationwide would have to get sick with the coronavirus in order to build up a natural immunity across communities. As the virus spreads and sickens people, many would die in the process. To achieve herd immunity, we need 70% of individuals to become infected.

If the mortality rate is even 1%, at least, two million Americans would die to achieve herd immunity to the coronavirus.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s data shows the mortality rate for COVID-19 is about 4%. That means the survival rate is about 96%.

Republican lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, went on Fox News and said that older Americans would and should be willing to die in order to preserve the economy and re-elect Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump attacks Dr. Fauci. Trump complained to Fox News about Fauci. “I disagree with a lot of what he said,” Trump told Laura Ingraham. Maybe he should have listened to him. The U.S. accounts for 4 percent of the world’s population, and for 25 percent of confirmed Covid-19 deaths. No other country looks as bad by this measure.

If the United States had done merely an average job of fighting the coronavirus — if the U.S. accounted for the same share of virus deaths as it did global population — 150,000 fewer Americans would have died.