GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — There has been a lot of talk, mostly on social media, about establishing herd immunity in the fight against COVID-19.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the president’s Coronavirus Task Force, spoke on the topic Wednesday during her visit to Michigan. She downplayed the idea of herd im,unity, saying, in part, “I would not be here if the White House believed that herd immunity was an option for America.”
FOX 17 spoke with Dr. Russell Lampen of Spectrum Health on Thursday, and he described the concept of herd immunity as “if you have enough people who have acquired a disease who have immunity to it that it becomes more difficult for that virus to transmit.”
Dr. Lampen, a D.O. of Infectious Disease, admits there are two real problems with the idea of establishing herd immunity against this virus. First, to get there would require about 70 percent of the public to have come in contact with the virus, and he says we are currently at no more than 10 percent. “You’re talking about, in some ways, unimaginable pain and suffering to get there,” Dr. Lampen explained. "If we have to get to 70 percent before we create a herd immunity situation, you’re looking at a lot of people who will become sick and far more people who will die of COVID before we reach that."
The second problem, according to Dr. Lampen, is that the antibodies to protect us from reinfection of COVID-19 don’t appear to be permanent.“I think most people feel that if you contract COVID, you’re likely to have six months, maybe as long as a year of protection," he said. "But it’s likely that you won’t have lifelong protection. I think we’re looking at a situation more analogous to influenza, where you’re looking at more frequent vaccinations. We’ll get to herd immunity through a vaccine, and that’s the right way to do it.”