WHO Epidemiologist: ‘Herd Immunity, as an Approach ... Is Dangerous’

‘It leads to unnecessary cases and it leads to unnecessary deaths’


VAN KERKHOVE: "With this idea of herd immunity, this is a phrase that's used when you use vaccination. When you vaccinate a certain amount of the population to be able to protect the rest of the population that isn't able to get that vaccine. Herd immunity, as an approach, by letting the virus circulate, is dangerous, it leads to unnecessary cases and it leads to unnecessary deaths. Our director general and many of us have been speaking about this, that this is not a strategy for this virus. Because there is so much that we can do. What I think countries are doing, and you pointed this out, there is no one-size-fits-all on how the actions and interventions need to be used, but there are a series of tools that we have that everyone is using, even Sweden is using in terms of physical distancing, across Europe, across the United States. What we need to make sure is that not only governments have clear, strong approaches, but that individuals know, are empowered, are educated, and enabled to actually carry out many of these actions. If there are stay-at-home orders or if somebody is asked to work from home, they need to be supported in doing so. If people cannot be -- if cases cannot be isolated in medical facilities and they need to be isolated at home, they need to be cared for and checked up on and make sure that they don't infect their families. There's so much that can be done. But the way that they are tailored, the way that they are used and targeted needs to be specific to the country. Needs to be specific to look at the demographics of the country, the way that people live. If you live in a single-family home, which many people in Sweden do, versus multi-generational homes. There's lots of considerations that need to be taken into account when you talk about the approach that's used. But there are so many tools that have to be used. And even the alarming situations that we're seeing across much of Europe, in the United States as well, it can be turned around. We need to think about what we need to do as individuals and how each of the decisions that we make can actually contribute to bringing this pandemic to an end."

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