Berlin virologist christian drosten and other colleagues oppose a corona strategy with herd immunity as a goal.
"We are concerned to note the renewed strength of voices advocating the natural infection of large sections of the population with the aim of herd immunity as a strategy for combating the pandemic," states a statement from the erlangen-based society for virology (gfv), in which drosten was also involved. Herd immunity means that a large part of the population has become immune after an infection or vaccination, and the virus can therefore no longer spread so easily.
The virologists refer in their text to the so-called great barrington declaration, which was written by three researchers from the usa and great britain. According to its own website, many hundreds of thousands of people have already signed the declaration.
In the text it says, among other things: "the most compassionate approach, balancing the risks and benefits of achieving herd immunity, is to allow those at minimal risk of death to live normal lives so that they can build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while those at greatest risk are better protected." the authors fear that the harsh mabreations "will cause irreparable harm, with the underprivileged disproportionately affected".
An uncontrolled infection would lead to an escalating increase in fatalities, writes the society for virology in heidelberg. Even if elderly people are strictly isolated, there are still other risk groups that are far too numerous, too heterogeneous, and in some cases also unrecognized to be actively shielded against the disease. "An increased risk for a severe covid 19 course occurs, for example, in obesity, diabetes, cancer, renal insufficiency, chronic lung disease, liver disease, stroke, after transplantation and during pregnancy."
To achieve herd immunity, about 60 percent of people would have to be immune to the virus, U.S. Researchers estimate in the journal of the american medical association ("jama"). Immune means in this case that they can no longer pass on the virus.
According to the gfv, however, it is not yet known with any certainty how long an immunity acquired through infection will actually last. The pursuit of herd immunity without vaccination is unethical as well as medically, socially and thus also economically highly risky.
About a week ago, the world health organization (WHO) had already warned against relying on herd immunity through mass contagion in the fight against the corona pandemic. "Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy against an outbreak, let alone a pandemic," said WHO chief tedros adhanom ghebreyesus.
The society for virology speaks of the "beginning of an exponential spread" in view of the increasing number of infections in germany. It goes on to say: "due to the explosive infection dynamics that we are seeing in all hotspots across europe, it is feared that beyond a certain threshold, control over the infection incidence will be lost even in previously uncritical regions"."
If this threshold is exceeded, it will no longer be possible to track individual outbreaks and implement strict isolation measures. An uncontrolled spread to all parts of the population can then no longer be prevented. "It is to be expected that this will lead to a rapid overloading of the health care systems, which in germany, for example, is already far below 20 percent due to the shortage of intensive care nurses alone.000 new infections per day could be the case."