Saturday, 5 September 2020

Herd Immunity Is Not A Strategy

Another great Covid piece in The Atlantic on what's going on in Sweden. tl;dr: They have more restrictions than people think, with restrictions on large gatherings that seem like NZ's Level 2. And 'herd immunity' isn't a strategy.

Some snippets:

Hamblin: Sweden became this reportedly textbook case of using a herd-immunity approach, or at least, they initially said they were going to.

Forman: It started off with Sweden and the United Kingdom talking about pursuing herd immunity. Then England got cold feet and Sweden supposedly proceeded with this, but they didn’t. Sweden did a lot of things to curtail the spread. What people seem to not understand is that we do things in our country, even in some areas that are “still shut down” that would not be tolerated in Sweden. They still have a ban on gatherings of 50 people or more.

Wells: Oh! I feel like the picture of Sweden I have in my mind is everyone outside without masks, enjoying the summer, all together.

Forman: For the most part, they are without masks. But they still have a complete ban on visiting retirement homes. They still have a ban on public gatherings of 50 people. Gatherings for religious practice? Banned. Theatrical and cinema performances? Banned. Concerts? Banned. And this is what bothers me. Our president did a rally in Tulsa. That would have been banned in Sweden.


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Forman: Right. And by the way, there’s never been a real case of herd immunity through infection.

Wells: For any disease ever?

Forman: Correct. In fact, the term itself didn’t arise until just a few decades ago, when we had vaccination programs. There are cases where, as large waves of infection passed through communities, you had lower levels of outbreak in most years, and then you would have epidemic outbreaks other years. That probably is the closest thing, but that’s not herd immunity. You’re still having outbreaks all the time. You’re just having bigger waves and smaller waves.

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