WHO Head Says Trying to Reach Herd Immunity is ‘Unethical,' 'Unprecedented'
This has never been a strategy for overcoming a pandemic
On Monday, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) that allowing the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to spread in an attempt to reach herd immunity was “simply unethical.” The remark was a sharp rebuke of the approach amid mounting new infections around the world. Recent days have seen the most rapid rise in cases since the pandemic began in March.
“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a Monday media briefing. “It is scientifically and ethically problematic.”
In a public health context, herd immunity typically describes a scenario in which a large enough share of the population is vaccinated against a disease to prevent it from spreading widely, thereby providing default protection to a minority of people who have not been vaccinated.
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