herd immunity

There are a couple (probably many more) expressions emerging from the Coronavirus pandemic presently spiking in most states of the United States that I greatly appreciate, these two being, one, social distancing and two, herd immunity. I’ve probably never used either expression up until now but I’m sure I will in the future. They so well summarize two well entrenched, if not until now well recognized, characteristics of our lives.

For example, we’ve always avoided for whatever reason close contact with others, usually those a bit different from ourselves, that being a kind of social distancing (before Dr. Fauci), and we’re constantly benefiting from the other, that being herd immunity, or being somehow protected by the numbers of others about us who are immune to this or that bug or disease. In important respects social distancing and herd immunity are in some respects opposite solutions to successfully combatting the virus.

Now what is herd immunity? I take the following text from an article in the Atlantic of July 13, by James Hamblin, A New Understanding of Herd Immunity.

Based on the U.S. response since February, we’re still likely to see the virus spread to the point of becoming endemic. That would mean it is with us indefinitely, and the current pandemic would end when we reach levels of “herd immunity.”

This being traditionally defined as the threshold at which enough people in a group have immune protection so the virus can no longer cause huge spikes in disease.

But a coronavirus vaccine is still far off, and last month, Anthony Fauci, th head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that, because of a “general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling,” the U.S. is “unlikely” to achieve herd immunity even after a vaccine is available.

The concept of herd immunity comes from vaccination policy, in which it’s used to calculate the number of people who need to be vaccinated in order to ensure the safety of the population.

All well and good. Cool terms social distancing and herd immunity. In the few words that follow I’m not able to restrain myself.

When Anthony Fauci said “because of a “general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling,” the U.S. is unlikely…” What he really meant, or means is because of Donald Trump, who doesn’t read, doesn’t know the history of our country, let alone the world, doesn’t respect the discoveries of modern science, who is someone who listens only to himself, and who is still for another four months or so, alas! our president.

Of what are perhaps our two most important allies in the war against the virus, distancing and herd immunity, Trump has done nothing to make them more effective. Has even sought to undo them. Almost from the beginning when both Covid-19 infections and deaths were growing at exponential rates Trump pushed constantly to get people back to work and back to school, that is undo social distancing, almost as if the virus wasn’t there. And of course the numbers of new infections spiked.

And when achieving herd immunity depends of testing everybody and making the appropriate measurements Trump did nothing on the Federal level, to bring this about, where joint efforts might have had a chance to succeed. And what was he doing, playing golf. With the result that we now see.

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