Vaccines for viruses

This brief essay might be helpful and informative — at least to some of you.

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Where vaccination has been especially effective, it is because the vaccine was specific enough, and widely enough used, to artificially create “herd immunity”. The best examples in the 20th century were smallpox, polio, and measles.

But, when no vaccine is available, herd immunity can only occur naturally, through sufficiently widespread infection. The more virulent the pathogen, the larger the percentage of the population that must be infected before herd immunity is achieved and the epidemic/pandemic finally burns itself out.

As retirees, many, if not most, of the people most vulnerable to the adverse effects of the new coronavirus were already effectively “quarantined” in senior citizen facilities of one kind or another. Exposure to the virus — in perhaps 80-90% or more of the remaining population — would have resulted, at worst, in only a mild case of COVID-19, while most would have suffered no symptoms, at all. Therefore, the vast majority of Americans could probably have been allowed to continue working, going to school, keeping the economy running, and living normal lives without presenting any significant risk of “overloading” America’s medical infrastructure.

Thus, if the “lockdown” had never occurred, it is entirely possible that “herd immunity” would have already been achieved by now. Instead, there are political forces that want to renew and prolong indefinitely this devastating lockdown, which, arguably, has already done more damage to America and Americans than the new coronavirus ever could.

FS, PhD

Career CDC Toxicologist (now retired)

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