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Is herd immunity the best way to beat coronavirus? Show more Show less

As governments have struggled to kill the spread of the coronavirus, policies have varied. Herd immunity - followed by countries including Sweden - has come under scrutiny. The strategy assumes a large section of the population will inevitably be infected whatever is done. Rather than enforce lockdown measures, herd immunity encourages social distancing in public places. The aim is to have as many low-risk people infected as possible. Immune people cannot infect others. Therefore, the more there are, the faster we kill its exponential growth, and the easier it will be to treat the vulnerable. The WHO has criticised the approach, as have many others. Is the Swedish government correct?

Herd immunity is irrelevant Show more Show less

Herd immunity ensures public health through an immunisation programme
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Herd immunity should not be a strategy when there is no vaccine

Vaccines are an important part of stopping viruses and illnesses. Making a coronavirus vaccine is more important than herd immunity.
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The Argument

Vaccines are essential for stopping illnesses. An immunized individual is less likely to be a source of infection to others. For a disease with no vaccine, like COVID-19, natural herd immunity would put the responsibility of stopping viral spreading up for chance. Vaccines are not made to give severe symptoms to the receiver.[1] Without severe symptoms, people like the elderly or others with health issues could gain immunity without risking their lives. Therefore, making vaccines should be the main plan to stop coronavirus, not herd immunity.

Counter arguments

The public should not wait on vaccines when immunity can be achieved now. Vaccines take time to make. Scientists need to isolate the genes of the virus, develop a test ready solution, and use it on a large number of individuals. All of that takes time. If the first round of tests fail, the the scientists have to start over again. While they are developing a vaccine, it would be best to get as many people immune as possible.



[P1] Vaccines prevent illnesses and stop the spread of infection. [P2] Vaccines don’t have the same severe symptoms like the virus it’s imitating. [P3] Without the severe symptoms, the elderly and disabled can benefit from vaccines. [P4] Natural herd immunity would have to be an ineffective main source of prevention if there is no vaccine.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Some viruses don’t have a vaccine. [Rejecting P4] Herd immunity has worked well in the past.


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This page was last edited on Friday, 22 May 2020 at 13:22 UTC