Governments must stop toying with any policy that seeks herd immunity
A group of 239 international experts and scientists have warned that the coronavirus can float in air droplets, which are likely aiding its transmission. The World Health Organisation may have had the worst of track records in the six months of the global Covid-19 fight experience.
The least it can, however, do now is to examine the possibility of the airborne nature of the virus and suitably add protocols to current measures to stop the pandemic. The world must be made aware soon if precautions have to go beyond current ones based on the assumption that only large respiratory droplets spread the virus.
The intention is not to frighten billions of people who are already running scared of the Covid-19 pandemic but to better prepare them to stay free as far as possible of the infection.
Another pertinent point gained from the 2020 experience is that “herd immunity”, thought to be achieved naturally when enough percentage of a population has become infected with a virus or bacteria to stop its circulation, is not only highly unethical and immoral but also unachievable.
A large scale study in Spain shows that only five per cent of its sick population of April developed antibodies and doctors even doubt the presence of antibodies guarantees any sort of immunity.
Just imagine the state of India, its healthcare system and collateral damage by way of mortality if about 80 crore people get infected. Governments must stop toying with any policy that seeks herd immunity.
Scientific experience reaffirms the belief that precautions like mask-wearing, hand hygiene and social distancing, besides rapid tests with quick results, including from innovative testing like saliva examination, are the way to go until a safe vaccine is found.
Treatment, as in large scale Covid-19 care centres like in New Delhi, testing and contact tracing is a responsibility no government can duck, not at a time when the life versus livelihoods debate is pushing nations towards unlocking to save the economy.