BOSTON (CBS) — Dozens of researchers, including several from Boston, are warning that allowing the coronavirus to spread in order to achieve “herd immunity” is not an effective approach to managing the pandemic. Eighty researchers were involved in an open letter published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet on Wednesday.
It comes amid a New York Times report that the Trump administration has embraced a petition from some scientists called “The Great Barrington Declaration,” which argues that the virus should be allowed to spread among young, healthy people while vulnerable populations are protected.
“Proponents suggest it would lead to the development of infection-acquired population immunity in the low-risk population, which will eventually protect the vulnerable,” the open letter in The Lancet states. “This is a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence.”
In the open letter, the researchers say the policy is “unethical” and there’s no evidence of a lasting immunity to COVID-19. They argue an effective vaccine and therapeutic treatments are the best bet.
NEW Correspondence—80+ researchers warn that a so-called #herdimmunity approach to managing #COVID19 is “a dangerous fallacy unsupported by the scientific evidence” #WCPH2020 https://t.co/2gTtklAkwx pic.twitter.com/q4YNZFJM22
— The Lancet (@TheLancet) October 14, 2020
“Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed,” the letter argues. “Uncontrolled transmission in younger people risks significant morbidity and mortality across the whole population.”
Among those signing the letter are doctors and health experts from Harvard University, Boston University, Boston Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
The head of the World Health Organization also warned this week 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.”