WHO warns waiting to gain collective immunity to coronavirus will kill many people


The World Health Organization on Wednesday advised public officials not to try to achieve so-called herd immunity to the coronavirus by allowing it to spread rapidly in their communities, saying it would overwhelm hospitals and kill many of people.Herd immunity is necessary to truly contain a virus, epidemiologists say. This is usually achieved after enough people get vaccinated or survive the virus to have the antibodies needed to fight new infections and the virus does not have enough new hosts to spread.

Most scientists believe 60% to 80% of the population must be vaccinated or have natural antibodies to achieve herd immunity, said Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergency program, during a live question-and-answer session on multiple social media platforms. “Whatever number that number is, we are nowhere near it, which means this virus has a long way to go in our communities before we even reach this,” he added.

Simply waiting for herd immunity to occur by allowing the virus to spread, as some opponents of social distancing has suggested, is dangerous, he added.

“The idea that we would have herd immunity as a goal, in a certain sense, flies in the face of disease control because if you were to say, ‘We have to have herd immunity of 70% and we should let the viruses spread until we reach 70%, “we’ve seen what’s going on,” he says. “The hospitals are overwhelmed. Lots of people are dying. ”

Even if people don’t die from the disease, there are still long-term issues, Ryan said. “Anyone who looks at patients with severe Covid realizes that it is a very serious multi-organ disease that affects many systems of the body, the cardiovascular system, the neurological system. And we have to assume that in milder cases a similar process occurs at a milder level. ”

Young people with Covid-19 left hospitals in good health, only to encounter problems 10 or 15 weeks later, he said.

“They can’t run. They cannot exercise, they are short of breath, have coughing fits, ”he said. “Who wants or needs this?” ”

The coronavirus has a wide range of symptoms, according to infectious disease experts and doctors who treat patients. Some people may be asymptomatic, where they never develop symptoms, while others have mild symptoms or severe symptoms that require hospitalization and even intensive care.

“We have to understand that Covid could kill me, but it could also weaken you for a significant period of time. And therefore, we have to take it seriously. We need to take our protection and protect others seriously, ”he said. “At some level, we have the right to risk harming ourselves. We do not have the right to risk harming others.

The comments come as the coronavirus has spread to more than 16 million people around the world and has killed at least 660,881, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. This is far from the levels needed to slow transmission, experts say.

Last week, Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, said the coronavirus was unlikely to ever be eradicated.

While the virus will not go away entirely, it is possible that world leaders and public health officials are working to bring the virus down to “low levels,” he told the TB Alliance.

“I think with a combination of good public health measures, a degree of global herd immunity and a good vaccine, which I hope and am cautiously optimistic that we will get, I think when we put the three together , we’ll get control of that, whether it’s this year or next year. I’m not sure, ”he said.

But, he added, “I don’t really see us eradicating it. “


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