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The head of the WHO has warned countries against perusing herd immunity to stop the spread of the virus, branding the method “unethical”. The remarks on Monday, came just days after the WHO’s special envoy for COVID-19 warned against introducing lockdowns. The radical plan of herd immunity is achieved when the vast majority of the population becomes immune to the disease and therefore can no longer spread it.
The controversial plan primary involves letting the virus rip through the population.
Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, has ruled out the strategy insisting it would have the opposite effect.
He said: “Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.
“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak.”
The WHO estimates around 10 percent of people have built up enough anti-bodies to tackle coronavirus.
Mr Ghebreyesus insisted diseases, such as measles, require up to 95 percent of people to be protected for herd immunity to work.
Just last week, Dr David Nabarro special WHO envoy for coronavirus, questioned the effectiveness of lockdowns.
Dr Nabarro insisted “lockdowns just freeze the virus in place, they do not lead to elimination”.
He added: “Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.
“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus.
“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”
Dr Nabarro added a lockdown can only be effective in an outbreak at local level.
He added: “From time to time it will be necessary briefly to restrict movement locally to enable suppression of outbreaks.”
Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon Matt Hancock said he had “no confidence” the UK would ever reach herd immunity levels and described the strategy as “flawed”.
The Health Secretary said: “Some have set out this more relaxed approach, including in the so-called Great Barrington Declaration, and I want to take this argument head on because on the substance, the Great Barrington Declaration is underpinned by two central claims, and both are emphatically false.
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“First, it says that if enough people get Covid, we will reach herd immunity. This is not true.
“Many infectious diseases never reach herd immunity, like measles and malaria and Aids and flu, and with increasing evidence of reinfection, we should have no confidence that we would ever reach herd immunity to Covid, even if everyone caught it.
“Herd immunity is a flawed goal without a vaccine, even if we could get to it, which we can’t.
“The second central claim is that we can segregate the old and the vulnerable on our way to herd immunity. This is simply not possible.”
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