UN warns against herd immunity to stop coronavirus

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The World Health Organization on Monday dismissed as “unethical” the idea of herd immunity as a strategy to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some researchers have said that allowing Covid-19 to spread is a more realistic way to stop the pandemic, instead of imposing lockdowns.

However, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that to obtain herd immunity from a highly infectious disease, about 95% of the population must be immunised. The organisation estimates that currently, less than 10% of the population has any immunity to COVID-19.

“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it. Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak”, Tedros said.

He added that too little was known about immunity to Covid-19 to know if herd immunity is even achievable: “We have some clues, but we don’t have the complete picture. Allowing a dangerous virus that we don’t fully understand to run free is simply unethical”, he said.

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