Why herd immunity strategy is regarded as fringe viewpoint

Scientists say idea of ‘focused protection’ for vulnerable people is very hard to achieve and likely to lead to even higher death toll

At first glance it sounds a no-brainer. Coronavirus is most dangerous to the old and unhealthy, so why not protect them and let the rest of society return to life as normal? It would boost the economy and it would free the young and fit from the mental and financial burdens of Covid restrictions. In time, as the virus tears through them, they will acquire herd immunity that ultimately helps us all.

The strategy proposed in the Great Barrington declarationa letter signed by an international group of scientists – is the latest salvo in an ongoing battle of ideas in how to tackle the pandemic. It calls on governments around the world to abandon strategies that suppress the virus until we can better cope – through working test and trace programmes, new treatments, vaccines and more – for the radically different approach.

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