The idea that you can stop the epidemic if you let the majority of the population get over COVID-19 is unethical and is not based on a scientific approach.
The idea of collective immunity is that when a sufficiently large number of people in a population is already immune, and the infection is stripped of its distribution channels. Because of this, the disease outbreaks disappear themselves quickly. For example, the formation of collective immunity against measles requires 95% of the population to form antibodies, and against polio – 80%.
According to the general consensus of experts, the spread rate of COVID-19 coronavirus in the absence of deterrent measures is 2.5-3. According to this formula, 60% of the population must get over to develop collective immunity.
The essence of the collective immunity concept is different, the WHO recalled. The concept of collective immunity, according to which the spread of the disease in the population stops when a sufficiently large part of the population has immunity, is based on mass vaccination, and not on the free circulation of the virus among people. This was stated by the WHO head Tedros Ghebreyesus during a briefing.
“Never before in the history, collective immunity has been used as a strategy to fight against an outbreak, let alone a pandemic. This is problematic both from the point of view of a scientific approach and ethically,” said the WHO head.
In addition, Dr. Ghebreyesus reminded, doctors do not yet have much information about immunity to COVID-19. For example, it is not yet known how long the getting over person has the immunity. The medical community is aware of cases of repeated infection with coronavirus. In addition, even now in most countries it is far from reaching the level of collective immunity – on average, the proportion of those who have already been ill is less than 10%.
We must not forget that the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the body have not yet been fully studied. “I met with groups of patients suffering from what is now called “long-term COVID” (people who have had COVID-19 and report about new symptoms over a long period of time) to understand what they are suffering from, what their needs are, and how we can help them,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus.