The head of the World Health Organization warned Monday against suggestions by some to just allow COVID-19 to spread in the hope of achieving so-called herd immunity, saying this was “unethical.”
“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual press briefing. He explained that “herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.”
He pointed out that for measles, for example, it is estimated that if 95% of the population is vaccinated, the remaining 5% will also be protected from the spread of the virus. For polio, the threshold is estimated at 80%. Herd immunity helps protect vulnerable people like infants and those with compromised immune systems who can’t get the vaccine.