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United Nations Warns Against Pursuing Herd Immunity To Stop Coronavirus

At a media briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said health officials typically aim to achieve herd immunity by vaccination, and that it is not an ethical strategy for responding to an outbreak like Novel Coronavirus

UN Warns Against Pursuing Herd Immunity To Stop Coronavirus
Highlights
  • Heard immunity is not a response strategy to an outbreak: Dr Tedros
  • Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people, not by exposing: Dr Tedros
  • Too little known about COVID to know if herd immunity achievable: Dr Tedros

London: The head of the World Health Organization warned against the idea that herd immunity might be a realistic strategy to stop the pandemic, dismissing such proposals as simply unethical.” At a media briefing on Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said health officials typically aim to achieve herd immunity by vaccination.

Dr Tedros noted that to obtain herd immunity from a highly infectious disease such as measles, for example, about 95 per cent of the population must be immunised.

Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it, he said. Some researchers have argued that allowing COVID-19 to spread in populations that are not obviously vulnerable will help build up herd immunity and is a more realistic way to stop the pandemic, instead of the restrictive lockdowns that have proved economically devastating.

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Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, Dr Tedros said.

Dr Tedros said 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, he said, noting that WHO had documented instances of people becoming reinfected with coronavirus after recovering from an initial bout of the virus.

Dr Tedros said that while most people appear to develop some kind of immune response, it’s unclear how long that lasts or how robust that protection is and that different people have varying responses.

Allowing a dangerous virus that we don’t fully understand to run free is simply unethical, he said.

Also Read: Ramping Up Cold Storage Facilities Critical As India Preps For COVID-19 Vaccine: Experts

WHO estimates less than 10 per cent of the population has any immunity to the coronavirus, meaning the vast majority of the world remains susceptible. Dr Tedros also noted countries had reported record-high daily figures of COVID-19 to the U.N. health agency for the last four days, citing surges in Europe and the Americas in particular.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.) 

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.  

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