Tuesday 12 January 2021

What could journalists have asked about 'herd immunity' without vaccination?

My blog of December 24 2020 is a collection of statements by politicians, journalists and scientists about 'herd immunity' without vaccination.

Let's ask, what might journalists have asked those people who advocating that route?

1. How many dead people would your plan involve?

2. Will you tell the public this so that the public can choose whether this sacrifice is worth it?

3. How do you know if 'herd immunity' without vaccination works? What about the Black Death, Myxomatosis, and Dutch Elm Disease? 

4. What if the virus mutates?

5. What if the immune response is weak and/or short-lived?

6. In evolution, some kinds of herd immunity occur through the 'breeding out' of the susceptible. This works on the basis that the 'weak' gene(s) ie the ones belonging to the people most likely to suffer the most from the disease, die out when the host (the person) dies. The people least likely to suffer survive, thrive  and 'breed'. The cause of the 'resistance' is either that the resistant gene pre-exists the disease or that a mutation in the gene(s) occurs which is resistant and those with this mutation thrive, breed and multiply. 

This takes several or many generations to achieve depending on how quickly the species breeds. Rabbits breed quickly. Humans breed slowly. This kind of herd immunity in the face of a virus like Covid-19 would take decades and millions dead. If that's what scientists meant or advocated, they should tell us. 

However, as they knew, the people most likely to get ill and die from Covid-19 are old! That's to say,  past the time of 'breeding' in which case the evolutionary push to create resistance isn't present. 

(I did the equivalent to A-level study of evolution and genetics when I did 2 years of medicine. I have tried to keep up with what's written about these things. If I am wrong about any of the above, please contact me on twitter or Facebook.)