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Herd Immunity Was Entirely Possible!
Many Low-Vaccination Countries Achieved it and We Could, too
Controversy over “herd immunity” has been with us since beginning of Covid-19. “Herd immunity” is defined as a critical percentage of people who are immune to the virus, that is so high that the pathogen does not have enough susceptible hosts to jump to and from to sustain transmission, and thus the pandemic stops or remains at extremely low level.
I would like to explain and show, in this article, that if we did not have “lockdowns” and “vaccination”, we, in the United States and elsewhere, would already be at herd immunity and Covid would be in the past, just like the Spanish Flu of 1918 became a thing of the past without any vaccines.
Unfortunately, after the majority of people were vaccinated, herd immunity is no longer possible at all.
Narratives of mainstream media and the so called “health experts” about herd immunity changed several times. Before vaccines, “herd immunity” and the Great Barrington Declaration, calling for smart ways to reach herd immunity, were vilified and declared to be a very dangerous concept:
Later, during the period of promoting “Covid Vaccine'“, herd immunity was declared to be the a desirable, but elusive goal requiring higher and higher percentage of people to be vaccinated:
Lastly, as vaccine failure became most evident to all except the most ardent supporters, herd immunity was declared unattainable by the same “health experts”:
It turns out that all three of these messaging campaigns were false:
Herd immunity is a good thing when it is reached
Herd Immunity is attainable
Many countries in the world reached herd immunity already
(but see warnings below)
Countries with Herd Immunity
The good news is that, as of now, very many countries have reached herd immunity. Examples of such countries are Romania, Bulgaria, Palestine, South Africa and India. There are many more such countries. All of them:
Had a large percentage of people infected prior to vaccination
Had high vaccine refusal rates (sometimes called “vaccine hesitancy”)
Had low vaccine coverage as a result, or did not use mRNA vaccines (like India)
Had a very low Omicron peak and very low Omicron deaths
Do not have any post-Omicron bounce
Look at the chart: the herd immunity countries listed above, barely register on the bottom of this graph. You have to make a visual effort even to identify their recent curves, way below the crazy infection curves of vaccinated countries.
Note that an objection can be made that these generally poorer countries test less. The response to this objection is that, looking at 2021, their infection rates were quite comparable to the highly vaccinated countries. It is the trend that matters more than absolute values, and the trend in these countries is towards disappearance of Covid-19.
Most importantly, in February and March of this year, in the “herd immunity” countries, there is no “bounce” that highly vaccinated countries are experiencing, where cases are rising relentlessly despite the previous January Omicron wave.
Natural immunity, in these low-vaccination countries, easily takes care of “Ba2” or any other variants that are considered unstoppable in the West.
Their daily life happens in practical absence of Covid. They are busy with something else. They truly “put Covid past them”.
Incidentally, these countries’ experience is a good sign to those of us who are unvaccinated and wondering how likely are we to be reinfected. Their experience suggests that we still enjoy a decent amount of protection. This winter, for example, I had no Covid despite multiple exposures, having had Covid in Nov 2020 and not once after that. I remain cautiously optimistic.
To make this story complete, I need to mention two important caveats.
Natural immunity is NOT free. It is actually expensive. To acquire natural immunity, one needs to catch Covid and survive, which carries its own risks, such as the risk of dying or getting long Covid. However, as we know by now, vaccinated people also get Covid, die, get long Covid, but most importantly upon infection do NOT acquire proper natural immunity, which is something that I discussed many times. Vaccinated people get reinfected more often.
You can think of natural immunity through an illness, as a cost (health risk) paid upfront, whereas vaccination is like a high interest credit card purchase, where the initial pain is less, but the high interest payments keep accruing.
Getting a vaccine is clearly a bad deal for all young people: vaccination takes away the chance of becoming truly immune, without a chance to avoid being sick with Covid, and gives a variety of adverse effects.
Future variants may be able to blow through natural immunity en masse. This is, by necessity, a speculative statement about the future, which is unpredictable. Endless circulation of Covid among vaccinated people may eventually create a variant that will jump to the naturally immune people. This is something that has unknown, but non-zero probability, but encouragingly so far it has not happened.
There is also a good chance that even future variants will be mostly confined to the vaccinated. The certainty that people exhibit on both sides of this specific question is NOT based on solid facts.
The Great Barrington Declaration is Vindicated
The Great Barrington Declaration was a proposal by prominent scientists to protect the old and vulnerable, without isolating everyone else, to achieve quick herd immunity to Covid-19 by simply getting infected and acquiring natural immunity.
The herd immunity countries above, vindicate The Great Barrington Declaration without formally following it: they, possibly incidentally, had most of their population get Covid early in the game and now are highly protected from the pandemic. They did not make enough effort to protect the old and vulnerable and it is regrettable, but the epidemiological result is that Covid no longer affects them, as of now.
Unfortunately, the West chose another route, avoided as much infection as possible, vaccinated its citizens with vaccines that could not stop the virus, and is now paying the price due to having vaccinated people suffering repeat Covid infections. Things could turn out differently: had we tried to get herd immunity, Covid would be almost nonexistent in the entire world.
The Mistake of Vaccination is NOT Reversible. Unfortunately, there is no way to “un-vaccinate” people. The highly vaccinated countries and regions will have to suffer endless Covid infections and reinfections for a long time.