Disease Expert: 'Herd Immunity' Only Way To Defeat Virus Without Vaccine

The United States’ short-term effort to minimize the damage from the coronavirus is not going to win the long-term war against the disease, according to one expert.
Currently, the country is relying on social distancing and various forms of restrictions that have closed businesses, churches and schools. The theory behind those actions is that if Americans are not gathered together, the virus cannot zoom through the population.
What that does is buy time, and should not be confused with finding the final answer to fighting the virus, according to Dr. David Katz, the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Connecticut, according to Fox News.
Katz noted that stopping the spread of the virus through social distancing may reduce its impact now, but it cannot be the ultimate answer because unless current restrictions remain in place forever — an economically, socially and politically untenable proposition — the virus will spread sooner or later.

Katz said a long period of shutdown only prolongs the time until the virus spreads.
“That’s what will happen if you lock everybody away from everybody else and kind of wait until things get better and then let everybody out into the world,” Katz said during Mark Levin’s “Life, Liberty & Levin” show in an interview airing Sunday.
“The virus is still out there. We don’t have antibodies. We’ll just get it later,” he said.
Katz said communicable diseases lose their power once a population they would prey upon develops what is known as “herd immunity,” the collective resistance to a virus that grows naturally by many people having the disease, recovering, and developing antibodies.
“[I]f all you do is flatten the curve, you don’t prevent deaths or severe cases. You just change the dates. We don’t want to do that,” Katz said.
Katz said the two ways to deal with the virus are to develop a vaccine — a process that could easily take a year at best — or build the nation’s herd immunity by weaning America off of most restrictions currently in place.
If enough people develop antibodies, the spread of the virus is halted by what Katz termed “dead ends” that stop it from spreading.
“It finds it harder to get to a host where it can survive and it dies out,” he said. “That’s herd immunity.”
Katz said the virus is so new that there is no data yet to determine what percentage of the population might need to contract the disease and recover before the virus loses its collective punch.
“The numbers of us that need to have antibodies vary with the properties of a given contagion. And we’re learning what the properties of this particular contagion are. That also needs to come from data,” he said.
Katz said that, for example, if he were immune to the virus, he could visit his elderly mother without worrying about spreading the disease.

“My mother doesn’t want to get coronavirus and die. She also doesn’t want to die of something else before ever again being able to hug her grandchildren because she’s still waiting for a vaccine,” Katz said. “Herd immunity gives us [a] much more proximal way to get back to life in the world as we knew it.”
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