Question Herd Immunity? A few million might die, and millions more damaged for life. Is it worth it for America?!

Jul 27, 2020
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There are recent reports in the news of an increasing interest in simply allowing the COVID-19 disease to run its course, unfettered from now on, while trying to protect the most susceptible people from catching it (if they have not already). Current efforts by some, inadvertent or intentional, tend to suggest that this is playing out right now. The impact of such a policy is much less costly to the economy, etc. which, some think, would rid us of the virus so that the survivors can "move on". This approach is known as Herd Immunity (1).

There are several reasons why this may not be a good idea. It will certainly result in many additional fatalities and morbidities, and by at least an order of magnitude. Most Americans likely would not find this acceptable. However. despite being In the majority, they currently have no means to alter the course of decisions, whoever is making them. Unfettered spread of the virus may also increases the possibility for more infective and lethal strains to develop (2). We must recall that the original SARs and the related MERS viruses had 10% and 30% fatality rates, respectively.

The greater the spread of the pandemic, the larger the number of viral replications and resultant mutations, any one of which may make the virus more infective, and/or more lethal. It could also work the other way around, perhaps resulting in a less lethal strain developing, and being less infective. It is unknown what mutations will arise in the future, but those advocating Herd Immunity are hoping that it will become less infective and less lethal. To most experts in medicine, "hope" is not a sound strategy for dealing with a lethal, infectious disease of as yet unknown "capabilities".

As of mid-July, a careful analysis (2) of existing data indicates that at least 65% of people would need to be infected (and likely higher) to attain Herd Immunity. Fatalities would reach over 2 million, with millions more suffering life-long morbidity - debilitating conditions from stroke, heart and vascular damage, kidney damage, etc.

The number of mutations would be vastly higher if it were allowed to infect and replicate freely. A direct quote from (2) summing things up regarding unfettered replication of this virus is below. Keep in mind that these results are from a pandemic largely contained at this time.

"More than 8000 observed single mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 genomes have raised serious concerns about changes in infectivity. Qualitatively, such infectivity is proportional to the binding affinity between SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein (S protein) and host ACE2 receptor. This work proposes a machine learning model to evaluate the relative infectivity following the mutations. We show that five out of six SARS-CoV-2 substrains have become more infectious, while the other one becomes less infectious. We found that a few potential future mutations on the S protein could lead to more dangerous new viruses."

end quote

Should the country continue trying to minimize the pandemic, treating it as a serious current and future threat, or simply let it run its course, hoping that things just get better?


(1) https://www.livescience.com/herd-immunity.html


"Mutations Strengthened SARS-CoV-2 Infectivity" (Michigan State University)

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7375973/
 

ROG

Aug 29, 2020
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That is not happening in the UK
Here we have increasing infection rates and reducing deaths & hospitalisations

Basing responses on infection rates is subjective as we never know the exact numbers
Basing responses on hospitalisations and deaths is objective as we know those exact numbers

Right now the UK would be better all round investing in herd immunity so that once done those vulnerable would be safer to venture out
 
Jul 27, 2020
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Basing responses on hospitalisations and deaths is objective as we know those exact numbers
The most recent data indicate that notions of herd immunity has not worked out well in Great Britain, or in Sweden, the latter which actively pursued it (1).

Here is a quote from (1), dated September 1, 2020 :

"....the U.K. has a fatality rate of 12.5%, second only to Italy’s 13.4%. Sweden has a fatality rate of 6.9%. To put those figures in context, the U.S. has had 55.57 COVID-related deaths per 100,000 people and a fatality rate of 3.1%, less than half the rate of Sweden."

End quote

These figures do not take into account the morbidity data.

Not exactly what some would say is working out well for GB. The same is true of Sweden. The lower numbers in the U.S. compared to some European countries is due more to limiting the pandemic in many states. It is likely that attempting herd immunity, which is being considered by some in the U.S. (2), will not turn out well either.

Title (1):

Sweden embraced herd immunity, while the U.K. abandoned the idea — so why do they both have high COVID-19 fatality rates?

(1) https://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-abandoned-herd-immunity-while-sweden-embraced-it-how-possible-is-it-to-achieve-herd-immunity-without-a-vaccine-2020-08-26


For more on the issue in the U.S. :

(2) https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-scott-atlas-herd-immunity/2020/08/30/925e68fe-e93b-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html
 
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Jul 27, 2020
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Where is that UK mortality rate from - all the past data or just the recent data?
The article does not say. Since you are asking this question, it seems you have not read the article. There is much more to it than the quote in post # 3. Please try reading the article. It is very informative about the problems of attempting herd immunity, especially with this virus.
 

ROG

Aug 29, 2020
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The article and the data it uses is pointless if it does not embrace the current situation relevant to each country

UK has rising infections yet has lowering deaths and hospitalisations
 
Jul 27, 2020
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The issue of the thread is the results of attempting herd immunity, which was the case until late March in the U.K. It is significant to point out that the U.K. government instituted stronger measures in late March after it was clear that the quest for herd immunity would not be reasonable. What is happening now results from abandoning the concept, and mandating approaches at limiting infections, as opposed to maximizing them. It is NOT a result of herd immunity. If it was, there would not be rising infections.

Quoting from (1) in the above post:

"The U.K. introduced lockdown measures on March 23, and on March 25, the same day that Britain’s Prince Charles tested positive for the coronavirus, the U.K. government said police would be given the power to use “reasonable force” to enforce shelter-in-place rules."

end quote

GB's current statistics is not a result of herd immunity, but by active measures to prevent viral spread. Herd immunity was clearly abandoned, and when it was, the situation improved.

UK has rising infections yet has lowering deaths and hospitalisations
This appears to be happening in many countries as measures to mitigate the impact has reduced serious cases, likely due to masks and social distancing. The severity of the disease now appears linked to the amount of virions an individual is exposed to. The mitigation efforts would therefore limit the severity of the disease, but not necessarily the number of new infections.
 

ROG

Aug 29, 2020
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From what the experts are saying in the uk social distancing and face masks are not now the reason with the reason being that the virus has already done its worse for the greater majority leaving the most vulnerable still at high risk

Hence the rising infection rates and reducing deaths etc
 
Jul 27, 2020
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From what the experts are saying in the uk social distancing and face masks are not now the reason with the reason being that the virus has already done its worse for the greater majority leaving the most vulnerable still at high risk
This postulate, that "the greater majority" have already been infected, and do not significantly add to the numbers, is highly unlikely. If indeed the "virus has already done its worse for the greater majority", you should not be seeing rising infections. They should be declining, since you are suggesting that over 50% of the country has been infected (i.e. "greater majority').


Please provide a reference to this claim.
 

ROG

Aug 29, 2020
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By doing its worst for the greater majority I should have made that clearer - for the greater majority of the most vulnerable not the greater majority of all
 
Jul 24, 2020
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Ive thought for a while that political leadership in certain countries have quietly accepted a herd immunity strategy in pursuit of economic recovery (without making such explicit). To the main point raised, mutation is something ive been concerned about myself. The Sars outbreak of 2003-04 was largely fuelled by a functional mutation that caused a more pathogenic strain to emerge. With Sars-cov-2, a probable more transmissible version emerged around the end of February and quickly became the dominant variant around the world. Despite this, researchers have noted that the virus is relatively genetically stable and has a much slower mutation rate compared with influenza, for example, and indeed the virus seems to be very well adapted to human transmission already which might suggest that there is little pressure to evolve.

Coronaviruses are however noted for their ability to recombine when a host is infected with more than one strain at the same time. The longer the pandemic state continues, and especially if left to spread unfettered, increases the instance of this occuring, particularly now that we are observing confirmed sporadic reinfections around the world, and considering the reports of high spread in farmed minks in Europe and US, where mink-to-human infection was also confirmed. There was a post on Virological.org in June that postulated that Sars-cov-2 is able to recombine with Mers, with the author noting the potentially 'apocalyptic' scenario were such to occur. The WHO reported a handful of Mers cases in Saudi Arabia in April through May of this year. While still theoretical, it is one reason for caution in espousing that the virus just be allowed to spread through populations.
 
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ROG

Aug 29, 2020
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infection rates are subjective
hospital admissions and death rates are objective
So why are most countries using infection rates to instigate responses?
 
Jul 27, 2020
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There was a post on Virological.org in June that postulated that Sars-cov-2 is able to recombine with Mers, with the author noting the potentially 'apocalyptic' scenario were such to occur. The WHO reported a handful of Mers cases in Saudi Arabia in April through May of this year. While still theoretical, it is one reason for caution in espousing that the virus just be allowed to spread through populations.

There is little to debate in your excellent post, PseudaFed.

Recombination between strains of the same virus is sometimes known as "antigenic shift*". While this refers primarily to the surface antigens, it relates to aspects of a virus's pathogenicity and its infectivity since the immune system does not recognize the new strain as it might either of the original strains.

Since there are so many coronavirus strains circulating, and its ability to infect various species other than man (recent reports add deer mice) indicate one means by which a more lethal strain could develop should the pandemic run out of control. The sooner it is stopped, the less likely such strains can emerge.

This recombination is most well known in influenza. A quote from the below link :

"Some strains of avian influenza (from which all other strains of influenza A are believed to stem), can infect pigs or other mammalian hosts. When two different strains of influenza infect the same cell simultaneously, their protein capsids and lipid envelopes are removed, exposing their RNA, which is then transcribed to mRNA. The host cell then forms new viruses that combine their antigens; for example, H3N2 and H5N1 can form H5N2 this way. Because the human immune system has difficulty recognizing the new influenza strain, it may be highly dangerous, and result in a new pandemic."

end quote

Had not heard about MERs re-emerging. That certainly is not a good thing. There are simply too many unknowns to allow this virus uncontrolled spread among people (and animals), all the while "hoping" for the best. One suspects also that while it is likely that "there is little pressure to evolve" transmissiblity, the lethal nature of mutations is much harder to predict since it seems more likely a matter of chance rather than gaining any advantage. As you no doubt are aware, it is not advantagous for a pathogen to kill its host.

You are quite correct in believing that a more lethal strain could readily develop given the opportunity, especially when various host species are in the mix of things, and all the strains they may be carrying or later exposed to. The unique features of this virus, such as a high rate of asymptomatic infections makes it a greater threat for more lethal strains emerging from recombination, or by mutations in the existing strain (known as antigenic drift**)

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antigenic_shift

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antigenic_drift
 
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Mar 4, 2020
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The speed and accuracy of data has only increased the confusion of it's context. Lack of or delay of data might have been the pass generations secret to survival. The knowledge is killing us.
 
Jul 27, 2020
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The knowledge is killing us.
Many would say it is the lack of knowledge that is killing us. And knowledge is defined, in part, as being accurate regarding its content.

That is why accurate and rapid testing results are critical to isolating those infected, contact tracing and minimizing spread. But you are certainly correct in noting "the speed and accuracy of data has only increased the confusion". There can be no doubt of this, and it must be remedied ASAP.

And "past generations" is a relative term. Before vaccinations, many did not survive. Check out the mortality rate of past generations for things like small pox and bubonic plague. The Black Death (bubonic plague) claimed as many as 50 - 60% of Europeans back in the 14th century. Knowledge of fleas and rats would have eliminated the problem, but they knew nothing of it at the time. This lack of knowledge killed millions of them.
 
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Sep 6, 2020
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What a pleasure to read debates and discussion in fact with references as opposed to the posts I relentlessly used to try and debunk on Yah00 in a mire of ignorance and conspiracy theories, so thank you in the forst instance.
I ahve used this site for a long time for information and interest and although a lot is beyind my understanding, it is in the main understandable and I learn new information to challenge my understanding on a subject to move forward.

Enough of the personal waffle, and to argue against Governments attempting herd immunity - How could Governments gain an advantage for letting any virus run rampant in a population based on:

1) Resources to allow day-to-day practices of helping walk-in injured would be massively strained to the point that an elderly patiet having fallen at home would be less likely to survive visiting a hospital for treatment as opposed to being treated by family a home.
2) Denying a population taking expected healthcare assistance would play straight into the opposition parties (I admit this is more my perspective of the UK). You need to keep the majority of a population on your side to continue your direction of a nation.
3) Again more my UK perspective but the most vulnerable people to the virus are typically the demographic that vote for the current Government; if anything the UK want to protect the older/ 40-60 generations short-term.

I am not convinced on the virus mutating to become more lethal but likewise with the virus population how would you realistically understand if that is true? Mutations have been identified but how much of a population is required to understand it's true fatality rate now without losing control and merely reporting out.
If anything my concerns on mutation woud be the potential impact long-term on a patient and how it would impact in later life.

I guess I will read more than comment and to reiterate, a pleasure to read structured debates albeit at times a little beyond me.
Regards
 
Jul 27, 2020
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I am not convinced on the virus mutating to become more lethal but likewise with the virus population how would you realistically understand if that is true?
Actually there is a very real chance of the virus becoming more lethal.

A classic example is the polio vaccine, which is typically an attenuated poliovirus (altered but still a virus). It could, under certain circumstances mutate and revert to the paralyzing wild-type strain. Below is a quote from *:

"Oral polio vaccine

"After wild poliovirus type 2 was declared eradicated in 2015, the world switched from trivalent to bivalent OPV (bOPV). Trivalent OPV contains all three types of poliovirus, while bOPV only contains poliovirus type 1 and 3. This switch means that OPV no longer protects against WPV2.

Very rarely, when there is insufficient coverage in a community the vaccine-virus may be able to circulate, mutate and, over the course of 12 to 18 months, and cause paralysis. This is known as a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus."

end quote.

There are a number of ways that the coronavirus can become more lethal. Keep in mind that its cousins, SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV, two very closely related viruses, have 10-30-% mortality rate. There is no way of knowing where this virus is going. Because it has close relative that are much more lethal, the only rational course of action is to try to minimize its spread. By limiting its replication, you reduce its ability to mutate.


* https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/polioviruscontainment/diseaseandvirus.htm
 
Corona has done more weird-ass **** in nine months than perhaps anything in known history. And people want to court it. But, wait! Herd Immunity mean....WE SHOULD LET 'EM. However, most of you share some bump of ulgies with'em, so......

And.....Economy........yeah, Resource-based Economy. Ending Transaction - for all our sakes. Cos ya all can't not buy nothin.....
 
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Aug 31, 2020
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Herd immunity does indeed seem to be the only answer to this pandemic. It is exactly the same solution that caused the end to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 and after a 100 years there seems to be no better solution today. A vaccine will not always work, and if it does work for some it might not work for others. Also, it might cause more problems than it solves; resulting in stronger, more virulent, more adaptable versions of the virus. Lockdown has helped hugely in slowing the pace of the spread of this virus and also in allowing people to gain immunity at an acceptable rate. Hopefully, as the exposure to the virus is slowly implemented it will have less and less effect on people, till eventually it dies out. A vaccine is not the solution, just look at AIDS; it has been around for almost half a century without a working vaccine being developed.
 
Jul 27, 2020
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A vaccine is not the solution, just look at AIDS; it has been around for almost half a century without a working vaccine being developed.
Small Pox, polio, measles, rubella, and chicken pox to name just a few have been eradicated by vaccines. They have no comparison to HIV, nor does this one. While immunity may not be as lasting, no one can know for sure. And yes, it could make matters worse. Only time will tell. No one has a crystal ball on this one.
 
Aug 31, 2020
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Small Pox, polio, measles, rubella, and chicken pox to name just a few have been eradicated by vaccines. They have no comparison to HIV, nor does this one. While immunity may not be as lasting, no one can know for sure. And yes, it could make matters worse. Only time will tell. No one has a crystal ball on this one.
True. What I meant to say is that if it were going to go away naturally,nopoint in trying artificial solutions which might just exacerbate the situation.
 
Jul 27, 2020
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True. What I meant to say is that if it were going to go away naturally,nopoint in trying artificial solutions which might just exacerbate the situation.
Firstly, it is not likely to go away permanently. The more it circulates and mutates, the less likely that will ever happen. It is a retrovirus and they have a nasty habit of hanging around endlessly. And mutating. No one can know where this virus is going, but the experts want to stop it fast, and for very good reasons. Which is why the whole world is trying to develop vaccines. It seems unlikely they are doing this for "no point".
 
Aug 31, 2020
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Firstly, it is not likely to go away permanently. The more it circulates and mutates, the less likely that will ever happen. It is a retrovirus and they have a nasty habit of hanging around endlessly. And mutating. No one can know where this virus is going, but the experts want to stop it fast, and for very good reasons. Which is why the whole world is trying to develop vaccines. It seems unlikely they are doing this for "no point".
I agree with most of what you say. Look at it this way,every country is trying to produce a corona vaccine. In fact in many countries several labs will be vying to get their vaccines out first. What this means is hundreds? Maybe more vaccines each different from the other. The world recovered from the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, without a cure for it ever being found. A few years later the whole episode seemed to have been erased from the human mind. There was very little information about the 1918 pandemic in the public domain. Which solution is better? Take my own experience so far. Ten close friends and relations (different cities) caught the corona virus , nine of them recovered and are none the worse for wear. One died but he was well into his seventies and so is an anomalous case.
 
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Aug 31, 2020
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If you want my advice for what it is worth. It is this: continue to wear masks; continue social distancing; continue to sanitise. Till this pandemic is over the hill and done with. Festina lente: " Make haste slowly."
 
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