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Achieving herd immunity against COVID-19 cannot be safely or easily done

by Grailing Anthonisen - October 29, 2020   23 Views   9 min
Achieving herd immunity against COVID-19 cannot be safely or easily done

Claim

“Pox parties” are a good way to build immunity against COVID-19

Verdict

Inaccurate (no factual basis; unacceptable margin of error)

A Daily Mail article from 23 October 2020 reported that Cambridge University Professor Paul Lehner claimed that deliberately infecting children to COVID-19 at “pox parties” could be a good way to help create herd immunity against COVID-19 without a vaccine. This claim is inaccurate because we do not know enough about immunity and herd immunity against COVID-19. In general, such parties are not recommended measures by public health authorities.

While natural infection is one of two ways to reach herd immunity in general, several factors are unknown about how to reach it for COVID-19 – and whether it is a good idea to reach it naturally. Achieving natural herd immunity when the mortality rate of a disease is as high as it is for COVID-19 could be considered unethical. It is unclear how many people would need to be infected or how long it would take for enough people to be infected. We also do not know how long people are immune to COVID-19 after recovering, which means that reinfection, though uncommon, is possible.

To support his claim, Lehner also suggested that children and young people do not get sick with COVID-19, which is false. Children can become severely ill and they can infect adults and other family members. Reaching herd immunity by allowing people to become...

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