The United States’ top infectious diseases official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told ABC News that an anti-lockdown declaration being considered by the White House — which advocates using “herd immunity” acquired through infection to control the pandemic — is “ridiculous,” “total nonsense,” and “will lead to hospitalizations and deaths.”
The so-called “Great Barrington Declaration” embraced by the White House argues that authorities should allow Covid-19 to spread uncontrollably through young healthy people while protecting the vulnerable.
Allegedly, this would allow a population to reach “herd immunity” without the need for a vaccine, which would ultimately protect the vulnerable.
Fauci said that anybody with experience in epidemiology and infectious diseases would know how risky such a strategy would be, ultimately leading to more hospitalizations and deaths.
He rubbished the “nonsense” idea that the vulnerable could be kept safe — “history has shown that that’s not the case.”
The declaration has been signed by almost 10,000 medical and public health scientists around the world and over 26,000 medical practitioners, according to its website.
Herd immunity has enjoyed renewed interest in recent weeks as widespread frustration with pandemic restrictions grows. The idea is not supported by scientific evidence and risks significant illness and death across the entire population if implemented. Even this may not lead to lasting immunity — there is currently no evidence that a natural Covid-19 infection leads to lasting immunity to the virus.
The “herd immunity approach” was treated to a scathing review Thursday by a group of scientists writing in The Lancet medical journal: “This is a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence.”
The scientists went on to say that any pandemic management strategy relying on herd immunity from natural infections is “flawed,” risking significant illness and death across the entire population.
On Monday, Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic.” He called the approach “scientifically and ethically problematic.”
What We Don’t Know
Relatively little is known about the immunity one acquires following a Covid-19 infection. There are numerous reports of people acquiring Covid-19 twice, with the U.S. documenting its first case this week.
A video clip of Fauci from the spring appearing to endorse the president’s response to the pandemic was included in a recent TV ad for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. He said it was done without his permission and took his comments “out of context.”