A group of national health experts wrote a letter to the Michigan Senate Majority Leader in response to his recent comments on the coronavirus and the concept of herd immunity.
Last week, Mike Shirky, Lake R-Clark, said he believed the state had significantly slowed the spread of COVID-19 and could begin to restore residents’ confidence to keep themselves and their jobs safe.
“No one here should be misled or thought that you can prevent it from spreading ̵
In Monday’s letter, five medical leaders called on Shirki to clarify his comments and the Michigan Senate to convene a hearing of experts to share ongoing evidence of what can be done to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to save lives.
“Some have the misconception that the pandemic’s decision is to wait long enough for people to get sick, that the spread of the virus is naturally slowing,” the letter said. “One problem with this approach is that many people will have to get sick before this level of herd immunity can be achieved.
The letter further explains that about 6.5 million more Michiganders will have to sign COVID-19 and more than 30,000 others are likely to die before the state receives immunity to the herd.
As of Saturday, Oct. 10, Michigan has 134,656 known cases of COVID-19 and 6,891 known deaths.
“A much better alternative would be to control the spread of the coronavirus through evidence-based policies, followed by the widespread use of a safe and effective vaccine when available,” the experts wrote. “Please clarify your comments on herd immunity to avoid the impression that a leader of your height supports the greater spread of coronavirus as a public policy.”
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The letter, sent to Shirki on Monday, October 12, was signed by:
- Joshua Scharfstein, Professor of Practice in Health Police and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health;
- Thomas File Jr., president of the Infectious Society of America;
- Tom Frieden, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives and former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
- Ashish Ja, Dean of Brown University School of Public Health;
- Carlos Del Rio, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicine, Department of Infectious Diseases, Emory University School of Medicine.
Herd immunity is the threshold at which enough members of a community have acquired sufficient immunity against a virus that it can no longer spread, and the transmission chain is broken. Health experts say the process must be slow to prevent the prevailing local health system and avoid preventable deaths, and the vaccine will significantly help the process.
“We certainly agree that the coronavirus will not go away on its own,” the experts wrote. “However, how widespread the virus is is not a matter of fate; a lot depends on us. There is strong evidence of concrete steps that people can take in their own lives to reduce the chance of coronavirus infection for themselves and others. There is also strong evidence of steps that states can take through policies to protect residents from serious illness and death and to contribute to a successful economic recovery. “
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Medical supervisors recommend that you wash your hands, wear a mask, and keep at least 6 feet away from others. They said states could take steps such as closing bars and restricting large indoor gatherings, as these settings pose a high risk of infection.
Monday’s letter quoted comments Shirki made to MLive last week after a rally protesting against COVID-19’s strict restrictions. Sherkey said he “does not believe we should continue to have the oppressive mandates we have had.”
In their letter, medical experts cite – and are linked to – recent studies that found that wearing masks is beneficial in reducing the spread of viruses, and said that restaurants open before the mask term had 10 times more cases than with those with mandates in place before resumption.
Health experts behind the letter said Michigan was “a national leader in using evidence to channel its response, explaining a relatively low infection rate for most of late spring and summer.”
For months, public health officials have warned against the dangers of trying to force herds to impose immunity at once. Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vale said health systems would be overloaded and that while many people would get slightly ill, many others would “eventually die who should not die”.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, a leading scientist at the World Health Organization, also posted a video on the WHO website stating that achieving herd immunity naturally, without a vaccine, would “take a long time” and “cause many side effects. damage. “
In order for the community to reach herd immunity to coronavirus, infectious disease experts estimate that 60-80% of the population will need to acquire immunity against the virus or through vaccination.
“Because we don’t know if immunity is long-lasting, nor do we know the long-term effects of COVID-19, Michigan doesn’t support allowing 80% of Michigan to be infected with this new virus,” said Lynn Satfin, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. said last month.
The full letter, uploaded by the governor’s office, is available online here.
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