My whole family had covid, no one was sick or is dead, herd immunity is the only answer, or do you want to wear a mask for the rest of your life damaging everyone's lungsThere 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."
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?
"Mutations Strengthened SARS-CoV-2 Infectivity" (Michigan State University)