The views of experts and health professionals on the decision by the Icelandic authorities to call on mass infection for Iceland to achieve herd immunity and exit the COVID pandemic faster.
First published in February 2022.
Siglufjörður, Iceland. | Unsplash/Luciano Braga
Question: INFECTING EVERYONE?
Having decided to lift all its remaining COVID-19 protections* on Friday, Iceland’s Ministry of Health published the following statement on Wednesday:
What the experts say...
Dr Deepti Gurdasani, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology, Statistical Genetics, Machine Learning, Queen Mary University of London:
“Getting infected to prevent infection is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard of, but the ‘herd immunity’ through infection narrative stubbornly lives on!
“I don’t understand how pseudoscience is at the heart of so many governments’ policies now.”
Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford:
“Herd immunity as a way out of the pandemic was scientifically absurd two years ago. It remains scientifically absurd. It won’t work just because people are now talking about it again as a solution.”
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Professor Christina Pagel, Director of University College London’s clinical operational research unit, member of Independent Sage:
“[It] makes little sense when new variants and the next wave is very likely to evade immunity from infection with Omicron just as Omicron did with previous variants...”
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Dr Leyla Asadi, Infectious Diseases Doctor, University of Alberta, Canada:
“We don’t know how long this infection-induced immunity will last and infection comes with the cost of potential long-term complications while creating more opportunities for mutations.
“Not the path I would have chosen.”
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Dr Lisa Iannattone, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, University of Montreal, Canada:
“At least Iceland is being honest that the intention behind dropping all public health measures is to infect everyone with SARS2.
“It’s still a wildly unethical plan that will lead to mass disability and won’t work anyway but at least it’s not being served up with a side of gaslighting.”
Dr Nisreen Alwan, Associate Professor in Public Health, University of Southampton. Public Health. Epidemiology:
“This narrative of “get infected to protect you from getting infected” is the silliest thing ever. First, because getting infected is getting infected. Second, because reinfections are common with COVID. Third, I can’t believe I had to say one and two out loud.
“I get it. Everyone’s fed up. People want to ‘get it over with’. But it doesn’t work like that. More infections mean more infections and reinfections! They also mean more potential for new variants. They also mean more long COVID. There’s no protection in any of this.
“There’s no heroism in getting infected. There’s no “that’s it for me phew” or “I can’t give it to others ever again”. There’s no “I was alright so it’s nothing for others too”. It sucks but it’s true. Live your life but watch your privilege and be considerate of others. That’s it.
“People’s behaviours changed and all of this ‘speed up infection’ agenda seems to be aimed at getting those behaviours back to what they were over 2 years ago. But we went through a global pandemic! It’s so unrealistic to imagine the world can get back to exactly how it was.”
Immunity. | What if?
* Read why we have decided to talk about ‘protection’ rather than ‘restrictions’ from now on in PMP Magazine.
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- Text: This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 24 February 2022.
- Cover: Unsplash/Andrea De Santis. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)