Fauci co-authors new paper on Herd Immunity.
Admits natural immunity exists and makes numerous digs at the unvaccinated
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Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President of the US, recently co-authored a paper looking at herd immunity.
The paper begins by looking at herd immunity threshold and admitting that natural immunity exists. It defines herd immunity threshold as “the proportion of a population with immunity against a communicable disease agent (resulting from innate immunity, natural infection, or vaccination) above which transmission of the agent is largely prevented, except for sporadic outbreaks in under-vaccinated or otherwise incompletely protected subsets of individuals. As commonly understood, herd immunity thresholds are reached when a sufficient proportion of the population is vaccinated or has recovered from natural infection with a pathogen such that its community circulation is reduced below the level of significant public health threat. For example, this threshold has been met with polio and measles circulation in the United States.”
Compare this to what the much maligned Great Barrington Declaration had to say on herd immunity.
“As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.”
The bad word (Herd immunity) is allowed to be said again and can be achieved, in part, through natural infection. Seems like Fauci and the Great Barrington Agreement almost see eye to eye.
However, Fauci thinks that controlling SARS-CoV-2 by increasing herd immunity may be an elusive goal due to the virus being more phenotypically unstable than polio and measles and it not being able to elicit long-term protection. Is it even more unstable due to mass vaccination and is long-term protection diminished for the same reason?
Throughout the article Fauci et al have little digs at the unvaccinated (or maybe I’m just being sensitive).
“transmission…is largely prevented, except for sporadic outbreaks in under-vaccinated…individuals.”
“Numerous variables greatly affected herd immunity thresholds including…..other unvaccinated groups.”
“Moreover, small numbers of unvaccinated individuals make completely protective herd immunity difficult even for the most phenotypically stable disease agents.”
“These outbreaks occurred even with nationwide immunity levels above ostensible herd immunity thresholds, as enclaves of under-vaccinated populations provided vulnerable targets for pathogen re-emergences.”
“Even global smallpox eradication had to contend with repeated outbreaks and cases among unvaccinated individuals.”
Whilst they may be correct that the virus could infect unvaccinated individuals, as indicated in their introduction, once an unvaccinated individual has been infected, they contribute to herd immunity. Furthermore, as we have seen over the last year, the mRNA vaccines in particular have not stopped people getting infected. In fact, natural immunity has been shown, time and time again, to better prevent an individual from getting infected.
The paper even admits to the fallibility of the vaccines.
“If vaccine- or infection-induced immunity to SARS-CoV-2 indeed proves to be short-lived, or if escape mutants continue to emerge, viral spread may continue indefinitely, albeit hopefully at a low endemic level. This notably has occurred with the 1918 pandemic influenza virus, whose viral descendants still are causing seasonal outbreaks and occasional pandemics 104 years later (pandemic H2N2 in 1957, H3N2 in 1968, and H1N1 in 2009), and which we have been unable, after more than 80 years of trying, to fully control with vaccines. ”
The big IF!
They say that after more than two years of viral circulation (which I’m guessing they’re trying to say natural immunity without saying natural immunity) and more than a year of vaccines with boosters, we now have a high degree of background population immunity. Combined with medical countermeasures Fauci says we can aspire to achieving control of community spread without disruptions to society.
He claims that “we no longer need the elusive concept of “herd immunity” as an aspirational goal: COVID-19 control is already within our grasp.”
It seems to me that from one side of his mouth he is saying herd immunity has been achieved, in part through natural infection, whilst saying on the other side of his mouth that herd immunity isn’t possible but it’s ok because we have vaccines and medicines.
The authors say, going forward, more broadly protective vaccines could play important roles in controlling SARS-CoV-2 and its inevitable variants.
“Developing “universal” coronavirus vaccines (or at least universal SARS-CoV-2 vaccines that elicit durable and broadly protective immunity against multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants) is an important goal for the immediate future (23). Meanwhile, optimal COVID-19 control will require both classic, nonpharmacologic public health approaches and vaccination of many more people globally with the SARS-CoV-2-specific vaccines we already have, with booster shots and with updates to vaccine antigens if needed.”
They conclude by saying
“Living with COVID is best considered not as reaching a numerical threshold of immunity, but as optimizing population protection without prohibitive restrictions on our daily lives. Effective tools for prevention and control of COVID-19 (vaccines, prevention measures) are available; if utilized, the road back to normality is achievable even without achieving classical herd immunity.”
Being a sceptic, I read this final paragraph as saying only with vaccines and preventative measures can you live a normal life. They seem keen to dismiss herd immunity even though admitting that SARS-CoV-2 will become endemic like influenza. Surely, that is one definition of herd immunity? We need to be careful that this ideology of ‘vaccines and preventative measure are the only way back to a normal life’ does not remain for much longer, eventually becoming The Science™ and impossible to escape.
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