By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – More than 80 biomedical experts, including several here in the Boston area, recently submitted a letter to the journal The Lancet heavily criticizing the idea that herd immunity should be used to combat COVID-19.

WHAT IS HERD IMMUNITY?

We often talk about herd immunity when it comes to vaccinations. It’s the notion that if enough people become immune to an infection, usually through mass vaccination, that the infection can’t spread as easily in the population.

In this case, some people, outside of the general scientific community, say if just we let the coronavirus run wild in our community, and if enough young people get infected, we can achieve herd immunity without relying on a coronavirus vaccine.

AGREEING WITH LANCET LETTER AUTHORS

The authors of the letter in the Lancet say this is a bad idea and I agree.

Herd immunity is not just a bad idea, it would be incredibly reckless and dangerous. First, experts say that approach has never worked before and should never be considered as a public health strategy. And allowing this dangerous and potentially deadly virus to run rampant could kill hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans, cause needless suffering, overrun hospitals, harm the economy, and on top of that, the virus would continue to come back year after year to do the same.

IS A VACCINE THE ANSWER?

A vaccine will help keep infections at bay, just like the flu vaccine. But it’s going to take time to get many people immunized.

In the meantime, what we know works is physical distancing, wearing masks, and good hand hygiene. And we know there are places in this country that aren’t getting that message or choose to ignore that message and, as a result, infections and deaths in the U.S. continue to rise.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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