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Respiratory diseases, left alone, just go away, through herd immunity. Containment prevents this with COVID-19.
Herd immunity is not a tried and tested approach to tackle COVID-19. Containment helps relieve pressure on healthcare systems.
This video claims that containment and self-isolation measures are preventing COVID-19 from running its natural course, during which the population should develop herd immunity, and therefore is prolonging the pandemic.
The NHS website defines herd immunity as enough people in a community having been vaccinated against a disease, thus making it more difficult for the disease to spread to susceptible individuals who have not yet been or cannot be vaccinated. It is untrue that allowing the general population to catch the disease is a safe way of achieving herd immunity.
The Vaccine Knowledge Project at Oxford University explains the concept of herd immunity using measles; essentially, if you take a group of people who are vaccinated and one of the group has measles, the disease cannot be easily passed on and will therefore disappear. The majority of the population has to be vaccinated for this approach to effectively stem the spread of a disease.
On 13 March 2020, Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government, spoke to the media about achieving herd immunity by allowing coronavirus to pass through the population in the hope that most illnesses developed would be mild.
On 15 March 2020, Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP wrote in the Sunday Telegraph (article also published on the UK Government’s website) that “We have a plan, based on the expertise of world-leading scientists. Herd immunity is not a part of it… That is a scientific concept, not a goal or a strategy. Our goal is to protect life from this virus, our strategy is to protect the most vulnerable and protect the NHS through contain, delay, research and mitigate.”
The UK Government also states that ‘The single most important action we can all take, in fighting corona-virus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the government has introduced three new measures:
1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.
2. Closing certain businesses and venues.
3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public.’
UK Government: ‘Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s Sunday Telegraph Op-Ed’
Vaccine Knowledge Project, Oxford University: ‘Herd immunity (Herd protection)’
NHS: ‘Why vaccination is safe and important’
UK Government: ‘Staying at home and away from others (social distancing)’
Origins of Claim
FULL TEXT OF CLAIM
‘What people are trying to do is to flatten the curve. I don’t really know why. But what happens when you flatten the curve, you widen it, and it takes more time. I don’t see a good reason for a respiratory disease to stay in the population longer than necessary. […] It’s not the first coronavirus that comes out, and it won’t be the last. All respiratory diseases we have the same type of an epidemic. If you leave it alone, it comes for two weeks, it peaks, and it goes for two weeks, and it’s gone.’