web analytics

To herd or not to herd

I was drafting a new post on herd immunity and the way to approach the second wave, but have just found the text of the John Snow Memorandum which does it much better than what I could do.

The Memorandum, currently signed by nearly 400 people, addresses the temptation to try to achieve “herd immunity” among young people, while protecting the “vulnerable”. This idea is not something very outlandish as shown by the Great Barrington Declaration as well as by signals from different governments:

“We heard strong reinforcement of the Trump Administration’s strategy of aggressively protecting the vulnerable while opening schools and the workplace,”


The John Snow Memorandum responds:

Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed. Uncontrolled transmission in younger people risks significant morbidity and mortality across the whole population. In addition to the human cost, this would impact the workforce as a whole and overwhelm the ability of healthcare systems to provide acute and routine care.


Moreover, the Memorandum gives a solution:

Once again, we face rapidly accelerating increase in COVID-19 cases across much of Europe, the USA, and many other countries across the world. It is critical to act decisively and urgently. Effective measures that suppress and control transmission need to be implemented widely, and they must be supported by financial and social programmes that encourage community responses and address the inequities that have been amplified by the pandemic.

Continuing restrictions will probably be required in the short term, to reduce transmission and fix ineffective pandemic response systems, in order to prevent future lockdowns. The purpose of these restrictions is to effectively suppress SARS-CoV-2 infections to low levels that allow rapid detection of localised outbreaks and rapid response through efficient and comprehensive find, test, trace, isolate, and support systems so life can return to near-normal without the need for generalised restrictions.

Protecting our economies is inextricably tied to controlling COVID-19. We must protect our workforce and avoid long-term uncertainty.


I could not agree more.

PS. A great thread on Twitter with a lot of number-crunching: