Is this a plan?
Currently, 38 states have rapidly rising new cases of COVID-19. Last week, the idea of herd immunity by exposure (i.e. no mask wearing, no limit on gatherings and close contact) re-entered the news cycle as part of the White House official’s strategy of COVID-19 management.
Simply put, herd immunity is when enough of the population has either had, or been exposed to, the virus so that they have developed antibodies against getting the disease. This can be achieved by doing nothing to avoid exposure. Ultimately accepting that a portion of the “herd” will suffer serious consequences as a result of their exposure and developing this frequently deadly virus. OR, it can happen by staying safe and practicing social distancing, wearing masks and providing a safe vaccine, a way for the body to produce antibodies to the virus without getting sick. Once a person has antibodies, they are able to fight the disease (with their own immunity) and as a result are unable to spread the virus.
Herd immunity is more about people not transmitting the virus to others. This “herd” of people develop immunity so they “protect” those that have not been exposed by not being able to transmit the disease. This breaks the chain of transmission and stops spread. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 and its easy transmission along with ever changing devastating and deadly effects, millions of people could die with this “expose everyone” approach. We know the havoc this virus wreaks on the human body.
In fact, in response to the recent official strategy news, The Infectious Disease Society of America released a statement that “community immunity” or “herd immunity” is a goal of vaccination campaigns, not planned exposure and potential infection of millions of people, many of which will get seriously ill and die. It explains that when we get vaccines, we are giving the body a way to make antibodies to fight off the disease, ultimately leading to herd immunity without as much loss of health or life. They go on to say:
As specialists committed to protecting individual and public health, we have made policy recommendations to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in keeping with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and well established public health principles for the control of an infectious respiratory pandemic. These include restricting the size of gatherings, maintaining safe physical distance and wearing masks in any setting where the risk of transmission exists. We recommend minimizing risks of infection by observing strict hygiene and infection control measures that include accurate and accessible testing for the virus, contact tracing and quarantine of those potentially exposed, and isolation of people who have become infected. These recommendations are made to avert preventable infections, illnesses and deaths…
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s Chief Scientist, says that since COVID-19 is extremely transmissible, most scientists believe that 60-70% of the population would have to have immunity to break the transmission chain. Not only will this take a long time, there will be a lot of collateral damage and death. Considering the global population (approximately 7.8 billion people), even if only 1% of people who get infected are ultimately going to die, there will be many millions of dead people in order to achieve this form of suggested herd immunity. Of course, there will also be a very large number of sick people with the possibility of long-term chronic health issues.
By letting the infection run wild in the population, as some suggest, many millions of lives will be lost. In the United States alone, with an approximate population of 328.2 million, over 3 million people could die for this freely-expose-everyone herd immunity to work. Given the severity and changing destructive nature of this particular virus, this number would most likely be higher. With masks and social distancing, rather than purposeful exposure, these deaths can be prevented. Our leaders defiantly mock mask wearing and any sort of distance and have subtly, and now officially endorsed herd immunity. Are we ready to make our national plan to fight COVID-19 herd immunity and sacrifice that many American lives? The life that is saved by safe practices may be your own.
Vaccines are a better plan
We can achieve “herd immunity” with vaccination rather than exposure causing the body to make antibodies. Years and years of research and development have shown great advances in safely vaccinating people to protect them from communicable diseases. If you think about the current vaccines that most of us have taken in our lives, you realize how science has been protecting us. Measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, certain forms of hepatitis, etc. are almost completely eradicated due to well-studied and effective vaccines. We have a new flu shot every year in response to medical researchers anticipating the potential strains of virus, specifically and safely developed. That has saved many lives and will continue to.
We have seen these vaccines become more and more available to us for more diseases. It is amazing if you stop and think about it; truly science and medicine at its best. Nowhere in the history of disease and science has any scientist say we can eradicate this with a policy of herd immunity by mass exposure. Science works and vaccines work to protect us. That is how herd immunity works.
Until this pandemic hit, most of us did not really think a lot about vaccinations, as it was just part of our lives. We trusted science and it kept us protected. COVID-19 has forced us to see how important vaccines are to fighting diseases as a population. We know how to do this as safely as possible and have been doing so for years. We do it more quickly as science advances. This is not a matter of politics, this is a matter of protecting human life. Rushing a vaccine is not the answer. Letting everyone haphazardly come in contact with this deadly virus is not the answer.
We are smarter now and know that masks and distance can protect us until science can provide, through careful study and trials, a safe way to herd immunity. It is still amazing that easy actions to protect other people from dying has become a dividing line in our country. We, as human beings, nurses and attorneys find this sad.
We are Susan Ramsey and Amie Goldberg, both practicing attorneys and nurses here at the Romano Law Group. Here is a little more about each of us:
Susan Ramsey is both an attorney and an RN. Ms. Ramsey’s professional experience began as a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. While pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree, she was a counselor with the New Haven Rape Crisis Program. During her time with the Program, Ms. Ramsey counseled sexual assault survivors and performed seminars for local police departments, universities, and high schools. During her time working as a registered nurse, Ms. Ramsey decided to attend law school. Ms. Ramsey graduated from CUNY Law School, and has practiced law in several different State and Federal Courts. She is a Florida Heath Care Risk Manager and a member of the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force. Ms. Ramsey actively litigates cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death on behalf of survivors, cases include injuries suffered by victims of professional negligence, product liability and medical negligence.
Amie Goldberg is both an attorney and a certified APRN. After completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Whittier College, Ms. Goldberg attended nursing school at Emory University. Ms. Goldberg’s professional experience started as a Registered Nurse at Egleston Children’s Hospital taking care of children with congenital heart disease. After a few years, she continued working in all areas of the hospital while attending Kennesaw State University on weekends in order to get her Master’s Degree in Nursing with a specialty of Primary Care Nurse Practitioner/Family Nurse Practitioner. During her time as an APRN, Ms. Goldberg decided to attend law school at St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida. Since graduating, she has mainly practiced in the areas of personal injury and worker’s compensation, fighting for the rights of injured people. Since joining the Romano Law Group, Ms. Goldberg has been the Director of the Opioid Litigation Project. Ms. Goldberg also practices in the area of medical malpractice and nursing home negligence, bringing an inside perspective and knowledge to help get justice for our clients.