We Need herd Immunity

The media has been largely quiet about the resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe, as it undercuts their ability to single Trump out for his supposed unique incompetence. But for the past month or so, most of Europe has been in the midst of a “second wave” of the virus. Have a look at the chart for the UK:

Their second wave dwarfs the first one, and has been ongoing for over a month now.

Spain:

France:

Italy:

Germany:

In all five instances, the second wave has been much larger than the first. The deaths have lagged somewhat, or perhaps they won’t appear at all and this “second wave” will be shown to simply be a byproduct of increased testing.

But one country in Europe is having a much smaller “second wave” than the others:

That would be Sweden, the country that remained open, didn’t hit the panic button, and didn’t commit economic suicide over a virus no different than the flu. The Spectator says of Europe’s second wave:

First, it seemed as if COVID-19 might be a disease which afflicted only China. Then it erupted in Europe, followed soon after by the US. Then, during the norther hemisphere summer, the epicenter moved to South America. Now, it is very much back in Europe. Countries which locked down for weeks, with huge impact on their economy, such as Britain, Italy, Spain and France, have little show for their efforts except for horrendous GDP figures for the second quarter. Britain had the worst figures, with a 20.4 percent shrinkage, followed by France (-13.8), Italy (-12.4) and Germany (-9.7). The US, with a 9.5 percent shrinkage, looks relatively good.

No European or North American country can be said to have come out of the COVID-19 crisis well. All have suffered far higher numbers of cases and deaths than have Far Eastern countries — something which is becoming increasingly difficult to explain through government actions alone, given the severity of lockdowns in Europe. It may turn out there is another factor, such as some degree of immunity from pre-existing exposure to other coronaviruses. But as we go into the election, it is no longer fair to pick out the US as the class dunce, nor to blame it on Donald Trump. The US is coming out of COVID no worse than any European country — and in terms of keeping its economy intact, it has performed a little better.

So the lockdowns have been a complete and utter waste.

I am not an infectious disease expert. I am totally speculating here, so I could be completely wrong. But at this point I am basically convinced that, essentially, “Viruses are gonna virus” and there’s little we can do about them.

We have to let them run their course. I know it’s hard to accept, especially for powerful politicians and “scientists” who think they’re literally all-powerful gods. But they can’t stop a virus.

We have a flu vaccine, and yet people still get the flu every year. Tens of millions of people, in fact.

Most of the Western world has been under lockdown for seven months-plus, and yet the virus still spreads.

As much as the media and the “experts” decry the idea of herd immunity, I don’t see any other way to handle an infectious disease than herd immunity. A virus cannot spread if a decent chunk of the population is already immune to it. This means people have to get it and recover from it. A lot of the cases are going to be asymptomatic. Herd immunity is not as scary a term as it has been made out to be.

The problem with the lockdowns is that they simply prolong the inevitable. They drag the process out, and that’s bad because I’m assuming with Covid, people who had it previously are only immune for several months. After all, Covid is a coronavirus just like the flu and the common cold, and you do not get lifetime immunity from the flu and the cold when you get them once. It stands to reason that you will not have lifetime immunity from Covid-19. In fact, I’m sure some of the people who got it early this year have already lost immunity to it by this point. They can get it again.

A new virus is introduced into the population, and it spreads rapidly because nobody has immunity to it. But the more it spreads, the more people become immune to it. Eventually, enough people become immune to it that it can’t really spread anymore. It just makes sense. This is why I believe in the idea of herd immunity.

According to WebMD, Brazil overcame Zika through herd immunity:

When your body is exposed to a virus or bacteria, it makes antibodies to fight off the infection. When you recover, your body keeps these antibodies. Your body will defend against another infection. This is what stopped the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil. Two years after the outbreak began, 63% of the population had had exposure to the virus. Researchers think the community reached the right level for herd immunity.

You might be thinking, “63%?! That’s 200 million Americans!”

It’s a fair point, but what’s the alternative? Lockdown Forever? Sorry, not happening.

And, like I said above, the lockdowns aren’t actually stopping the virus from spreading. They’re merely delaying and prolonging the spread of the virus. They’re just giving us the worst of both worlds.

We know lockdowns don’t stop the virus because they told us so from the very start.

Remember “flatten the curve”?

“Flatten the curve” was never supposed to defeat the virus, it was only meant to ensure we didn’t overload our hospitals with Covid patients all at once.

But for some reason, people are now under the impression that if we lock down for long enough, the virus will just magically disappear.

That was never the plan at the start. It just sort of became the plan once politicians started seeing case numbers go up and up and up. “Oh no, cases are increasing. Better keep the lockdown in place.”

WebMD’s article says we’d achieve Covid herd immunity with between 50-67% exposure:

When does a community reach herd immunity? It depends on the reproduction number, or R0. The R0 tells you the average number of people that a single person with the virus can infect if those people aren’t already immune. The higher the R0, the more people need to be resistant to reach herd immunity.

Researchers think that the R0 for COVID-19 is between 2 and 3. This means that one person can infect two to three other people. It also means 50% to 67% of the population would need to be resistant before herd immunity kicks in and the infection rates start to go down.

None of this is certain, however. All those numbers they’re throwing around are guesses. They have no idea what the R0 of Covid-19 is, nor do they know what the herd immunity threshold is.

It could be far lower than 50-67%.

But the moment you search the term “herd immunity” you are bombarded with “NO NO WRONG WRONG HERD IMMUNITY BAD BAD BAD!!!!” articles:

Herd immunity is our natural response to infectious diseases. How can it be “debunked” or a “fallacy”? It is literally our species’ natural defense mechanism against viruses.

For a simple example of how herd immunity naturally works, let’s assume the R0 is 3. I’m walking down the street in a crowded city and someone sneezes on me. I do my best to avoid it, but I still get the virus. I then infect 3 people, who in turn infect 9 people, who then infect 27 people, etc. Plus that guy who sneezed on me also infected two other people in addition to me, and they infected 6 other people, who then infected 18 additional people, which turns into 54 people, etc.

But what if I was already immune to the virus and I didn’t get it even when that guy sneezed on me? That’s 27 people who didn’t get the virus because I was immune to it.

In what possible way is any of this a “fallacy”? Herd immunity is logically and demonstrably true.

We want young, healthy people out there getting it and building up immunity, as crazy as it sounds.

It sounds counterintuitive, and lockdowns sound like common sense, but the more isolated we are, the more the virus will pick us off one-by-one. The more young, healthy people that get it, the more they will build up society’s herd immunity.

Yes, we should obviously be isolating the elderly and high-risk, but the faster the infection runs through the young and the healthy, the quicker society as a whole develops herd immunity.

But right now, it feels like people are getting it one-by-one due to social isolation measures and lockdowns.

So what is the herd immunity threshold? Is it 50%? 60%? 70%?

It could be much lower. Have a look at this excerpt from the 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic Wikipedia page:

Some studies estimated that the actual number of cases including asymptomatic and mild cases could be 700 million to 1.4 billion people—or 11 to 21 percent of the global population of 6.8 billion at the time. The lower value of 700 million is more than the 500 million people estimated to have been infected by the Spanish flu pandemic. However, the Spanish flu infected a much higher proportion of the world population at the time, with the Spanish flu infecting an estimated 500 million people, which was roughly equivalent to a third of the world population at the time of the pandemic.

So, Swine Flu in 2009 petered out at between 11-21% of the global population.

The Spanish Flu of 1918 petered out at around 33% of the global population.

This is a chart that shows the major flu pandemics since the late 1800s, and what percentage of the world they infected:

The seasonal flu is between 5-15% for the H3N2 strain, and 3-11% for the H1N1 strain. Those are consistent figures, year after year after year. Why would we expect Covid-19 to be wildly different?

The 1889 flu pandemic and the Spanish flu were obviously very widespread, infecting as much as 60% of the world based on differing estimates.

But no flu pandemic since then has infected more than 20% of the world population. I think we should focus more on the more recent flu pandemics than the 1918 Spanish Flu, because there were many advances in modern medicine between 1918 and the 1957 Asian Flu.

1957 Asian Flu: 500 million+ cases, infected at least 17% of the world.

1968 Hong Kong Flu: 500 million+ cases, infected at least 14% of the world.

2009 Swine Flu: 700m-1.4 billion cases, infected at least 11-21% of the world.

Right now, the Coronavirus has infected only about 41 million people worldwide, at least that we know of. I’m sure there are other estimates out there showing the real total far higher.

But 41 million is nowhere close to past flu pandemic numbers. It’s not even one half of one percent of the world’s present population.

It’s been over 7 months just here in America since the virus arrived. It’s been nearly a year since it broke out in China, and already they’re throwing massive concerts in Wuhan, the supposed epicenter of the virus.

Either this virus is far less contagious than past flu pandemics, or we are simply delaying its inevitable rapid spread phase with all of our lockdowns and social isolation measures.

Remember, the Swine Flu of 2009 infected between 700 million-1.4 billion in a span of 20 months (Jan. 2009-Aug. 2010). That’s between 35-70 million new cases a month, a pace that completely blows Covid-19 away.

And while the world Coronavirus fatality rate is supposedly 2.7% (total deaths divided by total cases, via data found here), we already know that many of these deaths are erroneously attributed to Covid. The death rate is not 2.7%. That’s an inflated figure promoted by people who want to politicize the virus.

If pandemic history is anything to go by, this virus will not go away until it infects at around 1.4 billion people, which would equal 18% of the world population. Who knows how close it truly is to that figure (in other words, how many more people have been infected than the official totals show), but even if the true infection figures are 10x higher than the official data that means only 400 million people have been infected thus far worldwide. It means we still have hell of a long way to go.

I would love it if we could get through this without 1.4 billion people getting Covid. But if we’re being realistic about the whole thing, that’s not likely to happen. Why should this flu pandemic be different from those of the past?

We don’t even have to go by previous pandemics to get a sense of where the herd immunity threshold actually lies for Covid-19, because there are parts of the world where Covid-19 herd immunity has already been reached:

Remember the Diamond Princess cruise ship from the start of the pandemic? 3,711 people on-board, 700 infected. That comes out to 18.8%.

This thread from Twitter by Yinon Weiss does an excellent job explaining herd immunity, but essentially he looks at the prevalence rate of Covid antibodies in different places all around the world–Germany, Sweden, New York City, Iran, Northern Italy–and found that even in the worst-hit areas, they topped-out at 15-20% antibody presence.

This was the author’s conclusion:

Herd immunity is likely not 50-67%. It’s probably closer to 15-20%.

Even though that thread was from over 2 months ago, it still holds today. On October 9, the Chicago Tribune reported 20% antibody prevalence in Chicago. Official figures claim the city has had about 83k cases, but the 20% antibodies figure would indicate about 540,000 cases out of the population of 2.7 million.

Even the Atlantic ran a piece back in July that identified 20% as the herd immunity threshold:

We need to let this thing run its course while simultaneously taking steps to isolate and protect the elderly and high-risk. Nearly 80% of Covid deaths are people over the age of 65. We need to be protecting them, while letting everyone else develop herd immunity.

But, again, you can’t prolong the herd immunity phase, or else people will lose immunity after a few months. We are prolonging the spread of the virus and are risking entering a neverending cycle of the coronavirus where there is never a large enough portion of the population infected at any one time to translate into herd immunity.

We need to get over this idiotic attachment to the idea that only Magical Masks and All Powerful Politicians can save us from this deadly plague. It’s nonsense. Herd immunity is how the human race survives pandemics. It is our natural defense mechanism for them.

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