A White House medical adviser is promoting a “herd immunity” strategy to battle Covid-19. This would involve allowing Sars-CoV-2 to infect a majority of the population under a “benign neglect” strategy as the government would do little to stop it. This strategy would build immunity to a point where the virus could no longer move from host to host. The strategy would entail millions dead, millions more potentially left with unknown health complications, and no guarantee of success in the end.
Herd immunity more accurately requires malign neglect. Were this strategy to be implemented in the US, the death toll would be catastrophic. Assuming seventy percent of the population must have antibodies to achieve herd immunity and a population of three hundred forty million in the US, that would require two hundred thirty eight million people infections, which could involve lifelong health complications for those who get seriously ill. Assuming a death rate of one percent to three percent, the herd immunity strategy would kill 2.4 to 7.1 million Americans and three times that at the current ratio of infected to deceased.