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Herd immunity is ‘unethical,’ according to WHO

Herd immunity is an ‘unethical’ way to stop the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization said.

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Officials have called for the country to reach herd immunity. It’s possible to lose it, though

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned in a recent interview that the United States could see a staggering death toll from the coronavirus if the country allows infections to rise in the hope of achieving herd immunity.

Peter Hamlin, Associated Press

The World Health Organization said Monday that the idea of “herd immunity” to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus is an “unethical” practice.

  • “Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual press briefing.
  • He said “herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.”

The WHO leader pointed to measles. About 95% of people are vaccinated for measles so the leftover 5% would be protected from the virus, according to CBS News.

  • “Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic.”

For the novel coronavirus, 70% to 90% of Americans would need to have coronavirus antibodies for herd immunity to be achieved, according to CBS News.

Right now, less than 10% of the entire world has immunity to the novel coronavirus, which leaves much of the world still susceptible, NBC News reports.