T-cell Immunity ‘May Last Longer Than Antibodies’



These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

T-cell Immunity ‘May Last Longer Than Antibodies’

UK preprint research gives evidence that T-cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 may last longer than antibody immunity.

The research is from the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC) and Public Health England.

It assessed cellular immune response at 6 months following primary infection in 100 healthy adults with asymptomatic or mild-to-moderate COVID-19.

Study author, Dr Shamez Ladhani, consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England, said: “Cellular immunity is a complex but potentially very significant piece of the COVID-19 puzzle, and it’s important that more research be done in this area. However, early results show that T-cell responses may outlast the initial antibody response, which could have a significant impact on COVID vaccine development and immunity research.”

Professor Paul Moss, UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium lead from University of Birmingham, said: “To our knowledge, our study is the first in the world to show robust cellular immunity remains at 6 months after infection in individuals who experienced either mild/moderate or asymptomatic COVID-19. Interestingly, we found that cellular immunity is stronger at this time point in those people who had symptomatic infection compared with asymptomatic cases. We now need more research to find out if symptomatic individuals are better protected against reinfection in the future.”

Commenting via the Science Media Centre, Professor Charles Bangham, chair of immunology, Imperial College London, said: “These results provide reassurance that, although the titre of antibody to SARS-CoV-2 can fall below detectable levels within a few months of infection, a degree of immunity to the virus may be maintained.  However, the critical question remains: do these persistent T-cells provide efficient protection against re-infection?  It will also be important to follow the antibody and T-cell immunity in people who develop the syndrome of long COVID – the persistent and sometimes debilitating condition that follows acute SARS-CoV-2 infection in a still uncertain proportion of people.  Finally, the data in this paper reinforce the need for care in interpreting the results of serological (antibody) tests: it is still unclear how well either the antibody titre or the T-cell frequency correlate with actual protection against reinfection.”

2 Weeks to See Benefit of England’s Second Lockdown

NHS England’s Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis, has cautioned that it’ll take until half way through England’s 4 week national lockdown to see improvements in infections. “It takes around a fortnight for today’s infections in the community to result in hospital COVID admissions – so what happens over the next 2 weeks is partly baked in. But the measures announced today [Oct 31] will help reduce the number of admissions beyond that,” he said in a statement.

“Daily hospital COVID admissions are now higher than on 23 March when the Prime Minister announced the first national lockdown.

“NHS doctors and nurses in many areas of England – including Liverpool, Lancashire, and Nottinghamshire – are now treating more COVID-19 patients than at the peak of the first wave.”

Three of the Nightingale

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Deliberate Efforts to Achieve Herd Immunity to COVID Are Dangerous

The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research.

White House advisers have made the case recently for a “natural” approach to herd immunity as a way to reduce the need for public health measures to control the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic while still keeping people safe. This idea is summed up in something called the Great Barrington Declaration, a proposal put out by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank.

The basic idea behind this proposal is to let low-risk people in the U.S. socialize and naturally become infected with the coronavirus, while vulnerable people would maintain social distancing and continue to shelter in place. Proponents of this strategy claim so-called “natural herd immunity” will emerge and minimize harm from SARS-CoV-2 while protecting the economy.

Another way to get to herd immunity is through mass vaccinations, as we have done with measles, smallpox and largely with polio.

A population has achieved herd immunity when a large enough percentage of individuals become immune to a disease. When this happens, infected people are no longer able to transmit the disease, and the epidemic will burn out.

As a professor of behavioral and community health sciences, I am acutely aware that mental, social and economic health are important for a person to thrive, and that public health measures such as social distancing have imposed severe restrictions on daily life. But based on all the research and science available, the leadership at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and I believe this infection-based approach would almost certainly fail.

Dropping social distancing and mask wearing, reopening restaurants and allowing large gatherings will result in overwhelmed hospital systems and skyrocketing mortality. Furthermore, according to recent research, this reckless approach is unlikely to even produce the herd immunity that’s the whole point of such a plan.

Vaccination, in comparison, offers a much safer and likely more effective approach.

An uncertain path to herd immunity

Herd immunity is an effective way to limit a deadly epidemic, but it requires a huge number of people to be immune.

The proportion of the population required for herd immunity depends on how infectious a virus is. This is measured by the basic reproduction number, R0, how many people a single contagious person would infect in a susceptible population. For SARS-CoV-2, R0 is between 2 and 3.2. At that level of infectiousness, between 50% and 67% of the population would need to develop immunity through exposure or vaccination to contain the pandemic.

The Great Barrington Declaration suggests the U.S. should aim for this immune threshold through infection rather than vaccination.

To get to 60% immunity in the U.S., about 198 million individuals would need to be infected, survive and develop resistance to the coronavirus. The demand on hospital care from infections would be overwhelming. And according to the WHO estimated infection fatality rate of 0.5%, that would mean nearly a million deaths if the country were to open up

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The idea of herd immunity to manage covid-19 should ring alarm bells

And yet, many prominent epidemiologists, public health researchers and physicians are pushing back against the concept. NIH Director Francis Collins condemned covid-19 herd immunity-based responses calling them “fringe” and “dangerous,” while WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called it “scientifically and ethically problematic.” Currently the theory of herd immunity is used in public health settings when immunity can be acquired through a vaccine, such as measles or polio, but not when it requires people to contract a disease to develop immunity.

While herd immunity is the theory behind vaccine programs, the concept originated in veterinary medicine and livestock management in the late 19th and early 20th century. This matters because in this setting, economics rather than ethics served as a guiding force. In some cases, it was cheaper to slaughter diseased or suspected animals to prevent the rest from getting sick than expose an entire herd to a disease that could kill or reduce the value of livestock. While this may have helped halt damaging animal diseases, it would be unacceptable for human public health programs. Revisiting the history of managing the spread of animal disease explains why the theory of herd immunity, absent a vaccine, is a deeply troubling approach to managing the spread of covid-19.

At the end of the 19th century, over 1.5 million livestock farms existed with billions of dollars’ worth of cattle, swine, sheep, poultry and goats. In 1884, concerned that deadly infections such as contagious bovine pleuropneumonia and foot and mouth disease threatened the livelihood of farmers and American food security, Congress and President Chester A. Arthur established the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) at the USDA through legislation.

This new bureau was tasked with researching animal diseases and granted regulatory authority to prevent, contain or eradicate livestock diseases. Keeping livestock animals free of disease and death ensured a steady supply of meat, milk and eggs for Americans, and protected producers’ incomes.

Not all livestock diseases killed infected animals or rendered them unusable for food production. New York dairy farmers first documented an infectious-disease now known as brucellosis in the 1850s. They noted that the disease would roll through communities every few years causing pregnant heifers and cows to lose their calves. This led to a decrease in milk production — but most infected cows recovered and returned to normal production for the rest of their lives. Owners worried about their bottom line at that moment but did not want to slaughter potentially productive animals. Instead, they hoped to prevent the disease through sanitary measures and treatments.

Cases of cattle brucellosis were reported across the country in dairy cattle and an increasing number of range herds. Through the use of establishing herds for observation and testing, by the early 20th century the bacterial cause of the disease was identified and a test for exposure was developed — but neither a vaccine nor treatment had been discovered.

And so, researchers and farmers offered advice about how to minimize the impact of brucellosis on cattle. At

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Analysis: What Do Waning COVID-19 Antibodies Tell Us About Immunity and Vaccines? | Top News

LONDON (Reuters) – Growing evidence that COVID-19 antibody levels can wane swiftly after someone is infected is not necessarily bad news for immunity, experts said on Thursday, and does not mean protection offered by coronavirus vaccines will be weak or short-lived.

Specialists in immunology and viruses warned against reading too much into studies of antibody levels in the blood of people previously infected with COVID-19, cautioning that antibody readings do not translate directly into levels of protective immunity.

“The concentration of antibodies in your blood does not equal immunity,” said Eleanor Riley, a professor of immunology and infectious disease at Britain’s University of Edinburgh.

She and other experts said reports earlier this week which suggested immunity to COVID-19 might decline in line with falling blood antibody levels failed to account for the many complexities in how the body builds immunity to infections.

“Immunity is not something we can just wrap up in measuring an antibody or T-cell response,” she told Reuters. “Immunity is about the system working together so that next time you come across the infection, you either won’t get it at all or won’t get seriously ill from it. That’s protective immunity.”

While antibodies induced by natural COVID-19 infection may start to decline in few months, as a study by researchers at Imperial College found on Tuesday, the many potential COVID-19 vaccines in development are designed to induce more durable immunity by invoking strong so-called immune memory.

IMMUNE MEMORY IS MORE IMPORTANT

“Antibody responses are usually short-lived because once they have done their job you don’t need them,” said Jonathan Stoye, head of virology at Britain’s Francis Crick Institute.

“But that doesn’t mean that immunity, either induced by infection or by vaccination, is necessarily short-lived: Memory cells can respond to and combat a new infection.”

Since SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is a new human virus, scientists don’t yet know what levels of immunity will turn out to be protective. But many of the vaccine makers are touting both the antibody and T-cell responses, which are increasingly seen as important to lasting immunity.

“The immune system is very complicated. We know antibodies are important, but they’re not the whole story,” said Lawrence Young, a professor of molecular oncology at Britain’s Warwick University. “The important thing here is immune memory.”

Key to the process of immunity are memory cells known as T- and B-lymphocytes. Having made antibodies to a certain virus in an initial infection, the body uses these cells to remember that pathogen, “so when you are next exposed to the virus, the antibody response kicks in much sooner”, Young said.

With vaccines, a key feature is that scientists developing them can select as targets the most important bits of the pathogen – in COVID-19’s case these include the so-called “spike protein” on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 virus – to get the strongest and most lasting memory responses from T and B lymphocytes.

Some vaccines also contain stimulators or boosters, known as adjuvants, which can supercharge the

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Immunity to coronavirus lingers for months, study finds

Immunity to Covid-19 infection lingers for at least five months, researchers reported — and probably longer than that.



a man and a woman looking at her cell phone: PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 20: Registered nurse Heather Hoppe receives a flu vaccination in the trial clinic at Sir Charles Gairdner hospital on April 20, 2020 in Perth, Australia. Healthcare workers in Western Australia are participating in a new trial to test whether an existing tuberculosis vaccine can help reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19. 2000 frontline staff from Fiona Stanley, Sir Charles Gairdner and Perth Children's Hospital are taking part in the research trial, which will see half of participants receiving the existing Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in addition to their flu vaccine, while the other half receive the regular flu shot. The BCG vaccine was originally developed to work against tuberculosis, but it is hoped it might help reduce the chance of contracting coronavirus as well as lessen the severity of symptoms and boost immunity in the long term. The BRACE trial is being led by by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)


© Paul Kane/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
PERTH, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 20: Registered nurse Heather Hoppe receives a flu vaccination in the trial clinic at Sir Charles Gairdner hospital on April 20, 2020 in Perth, Australia. Healthcare workers in Western Australia are participating in a new trial to test whether an existing tuberculosis vaccine can help reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19. 2000 frontline staff from Fiona Stanley, Sir Charles Gairdner and Perth Children’s Hospital are taking part in the research trial, which will see half of participants receiving the existing Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in addition to their flu vaccine, while the other half receive the regular flu shot. The BCG vaccine was originally developed to work against tuberculosis, but it is hoped it might help reduce the chance of contracting coronavirus as well as lessen the severity of symptoms and boost immunity in the long term. The BRACE trial is being led by by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

While the report may seem confusing and contradictory to a similar report out of Britain this week, it really isn’t. People’s bodies produce an army of immune compounds in response to an infection and some are overwhelming at first, dying off quickly, while others build more slowly.

The new report out Wednesday shows 90% of people who recover from Covid-19 infections keep a stable antibody response.

“While some reports have come out saying antibodies to this virus go away quickly, we have found just the opposite — that more than 90% of people who were mildly or moderately ill produce an antibody response strong enough to neutralize the virus, and the response is maintained for many months,” Florian Krammer, a professor of vaccinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who led the study team, said in a statement.

“This is essential for effective vaccine development.”

The team looked at the antibody responses of more than 30,000 people who tested positive for Covid-19 at Mount Sinai’s Health System between March and October. They characterized their antibody responses as low, moderate or high. More than 90% had moderate to high levels, or titers, of antibodies to the spike protein of the virus — the structure it uses to grapple the cells it infects.

They then closely studied 121 patients who recovered and donated their plasma — once three months after they first developed symptoms, and again five months later.

They did see a drop-off in some antibodies. But others persisted, they reported in the journal Science.

“The serum antibody titer we measured in individuals initially were likely produced by plasmablasts, cells that act as first responders to an invading virus and come together to produce initial bouts of antibodies whose strength soon wanes,” said Dr. Ania Wajnberg, director of Clinical Antibody Testing at the Mount Sinai Hospital.

“The sustained antibody levels that we subsequently observed

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Fact check: No, the media didn’t suddenly change its reporting on coronavirus immunity after Trump got infected

The story goes like this: The media had always said that people who survived a Covid-19 infection would be immune from the virus for life. But once he, Trump, got infected and survived, the media started claiming immunity only lasted for months.

“And until I came along — you know, you used to hear you have immunity for life, right? As soon as I had it and got better, they were not too happy about that…It was supposed to be for life; when it was me, they said it’s only good for four months, okay? Okay. Anybody else it’s for life, with Trump they said it’s four months. So they brought it down now, immunity, from life to four months,” Trump said at his Tuesday rally in Lansing, Michigan.
Trump told a similar story at his Tuesday rally in Omaha, Nebraska: “But because it was me, the press said, ‘No, it’s not for a lifetime. It’s only for four months. The immunity is only now for four months.’ They brought it down, right? It was always gonna be for a lifetime, now it’s four months.”

Trump said much the same thing at a Wednesday rally in Bullhead City, Arizona, this time adding that “they’ve changed the whole medical standard” because of his own infection.

Facts First: Trump’s story is false. In the months before Trump tested positive for Covid-19 in early October, numerous major media outlets had reported that scientists were not yet sure how long survivors might have immunity. While we can’t definitively say there was no media report whatsoever from before Trump’s infection that had claimed survivors would get lifetime immunity, it was certainly not widely reported that survivors were immune for life.

A CNN fact check in July concluded: “It remains unclear if those already infected with the virus are immune to any reinfection. Additionally, it’s unknown how long any sort of immunity would last.” A CNN story in mid-August was headlined, “Are you immune to Covid-19 for three months after recovering? It’s not clear.” And CNN wrote in August about a Nevada man who was infected with the virus twice — quoting Mark Pandori, the director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, as saying: “After one recovers from COVID-19, we still do not know how much immunity is built up, how long it may last, or how well antibodies play a role in protection against a reinfection.”

Even upbeat media stories about optimistic findings about immunity noted that the facts had not been conclusively settled.

For example, an August article in the New York Times said that “scientists who have been monitoring immune responses to the coronavirus for months are now starting to see encouraging signs of strong, lasting immunity, even in people who developed only mild symptoms of Covid-19, a flurry of new studies has found.” But that piece continued by saying that “researchers cannot forecast how long these immune responses will last.”
The Washington Post also made clear in August that “researchers
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U.K. Study Suggests Drop in Population’s Coronavirus Immunity | Health News

The proportion of people with antibodies against the coronavirus in England waned over the span of three months, according to new research out of the U.K. that raises new questions about the achievability of long-lasting herd immunity.

The study, which hasn’t been peer-reviewed, found that the number of people with COVID-19 antibodies declined about 26% over the study period.

Researchers examined three rounds of finger-prick tests from about 365,000 people in England from June through September. They found that about 6% of people had antibodies after the first test, which dropped to 4.4% after the last round.

The findings “suggest the possibility of decreasing population immunity and increasing risk of reinfection as detectable antibodies decline in the population,” according to the study.

Photos: Daily Life, Disrupted

TOPSHOT - A passenger in an outfit (R) poses for a picture as a security guard wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus stands nearby on a last century-style boat, featuring a theatrical drama set between the 1920s and 1930s in Wuhan, in Chinas central Hubei province on September 27, 2020. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

“This very large study has shown that the proportion of people with detectable antibodies is falling over time,” Helen Ward, one of the authors of the study and professor at Imperial College London, said in a statement. “We don’t yet know whether this will leave these people at risk of reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19, but it is essential that everyone continues to follow guidance to reduce the risk to themselves and others.”

The finding that antibodies against COVID-19 wane is not unexpected, as declines in antibodies to other human coronaviruses after infection have been documented.

“This is consistent with evidence that immunity to seasonal coronaviruses declines over 6 to 12 months after infection and emerging data on SARS-CoV-2 that also detected a decrease over time in antibody levels in individuals followed in longitudinal studies,” researchers wrote in the study.

Still, many have questioned how strong the immune response is to the virus and how long it lasts.

A study out last month found that antibody levels rose for about two months after infection and then plateaued through the four-month mark. That research “provides hope that host immunity to this unpredictable and highly contagious virus may not be fleeting and may be similar to that elicited by most other viral infections,” experts from Harvard University and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, who did not participate in the study, wrote in a commentary published alongside the conclusions.

Massive virus surges across Europe and the U.S. are underway. Some have suggested the controversial idea of letting the virus spread to possibly reach herd immunity, which is generally considered to be around 70% of the population.

Many health officials have decried the notion, and the World Health Organization noted that “we don’t know enough about immunity to COVID-19” for it to be a viable option.

“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference earlier this month.

In the U.S., White House chief of staff Mark Meadows offered a glimpse into President Donald Trump’s coronavirus strategy on Sunday, saying the federal government would focus on developing vaccines

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Study suggests coronavirus immunity drops after 3 months

A new study suggests immunity to coronavirus may drop over several months.

Over 365,000 people across England took finger prick tests from late June to September, as part of Imperial College London’s Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) study. Findings were published ahead of peer review on Thursday.

Findings stemmed from finger prick tests, researchers said. (iStock)

Findings stemmed from finger prick tests, researchers said. (iStock)

The finger pricks tested for coronavirus antibodies, and results revealed a drop from nearly 6% to 4.4% over a three-month span, which researchers said translates to a 26.5% decline.

If a person tests positive for antibodies, it means they were once infected.

ALMOST 800,000 KIDS HAVE CONTRACTED CORONAVIRUS IN US, PEDIATRICIANS SAY

“Our study shows that over time there is a reduction in the proportion of people testing positive for antibodies,” Paul Elliott, study author and professor at Imperial College London, said in a university news release. “It remains unclear what level of immunity antibodies provide, or for how long this immunity lasts.”

The study and university release included suggestions over declining immunity.

“These findings suggest that there may be a decline in the level of immunity in the population in the months following the first wave of the epidemic,” per the university release. Likewise, the study says: “These data suggest the possibility of decreasing population immunity and increasing risk of reinfection as detectable antibodies decline in the population.”

More specifically, the study tested for detectable IgG antibodies. When a virus attacks, the body first produces IgM antibodies, which indicate active or recent infection. IgG antibodies develop later, and often indicate a past infection.

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Across three rounds in the REACT study, 17,576 results returned positive, and 30% of people were asymptomatic. The largest reduction in antibody prevalence was among the oldest age group, 75 and above, at 39%, per the university release. The youngest age group saw the least reduction at nearly 15%. 

A lead study author stressed the importance of mitigation measures. 

“This very large study has shown that the proportion of people with detectable antibodies is falling over time,” said Helen Ward, professor at Imperial College London. “We don’t yet know whether this will leave these people at risk of reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19, but it is essential that everyone continues to follow guidance to reduce the risk to themselves and others.”

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U.S. again tops 60K new COVID-19 cases; Surgeon General Jerome Adams rejects ‘herd immunity’

Oct. 21 (UPI) — U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams joined other top health experts Wednesday in opposing a dangerous “herd immunity” strategy, as the United States again added another 60,000 COVID-19 cases.

According to updated data from Johns Hopkins University, there were 60,300 new cases nationwide on Tuesday — the third time in the past week that the level has topped 60,000.

Deaths in the United States also increased on Tuesday, the data showed, to more than 900. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 8.28 million cases and about 221,100 deaths nationwide.

Wednesday, Adams joined Dr. Antony Fauci and other top health officials in opposing a herd immunity strategy, which is purportedly being considered by the Trump administration. Adams said pursuing such a strategy, which effectively allows the coronavirus to spread unchecked, would result in an unacceptable death toll.

Adams tweeted that there’s no “example of a large-scale successful intentional infection-based herd immunity strategy” and warned that the course would “lead to many complications/deaths.”

The strategy reasons that letting the virus spread would infect large populations, who would then develop a natural immunity to COVID-19 and thereby reduce the number of people who can be infected afterward. Eventually, the theory goes, the virus would run into a dead end.

“Large numbers of people would need to be infected to achieve herd immunity without a vaccine,” Adams wrote, warning that such a path could “overwhelm” healthcare systems.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, rejected the idea of herd immunity last week, calling it “ridiculous” and “total nonsense.”

Most scientists say there would be no feasible way to isolate and protect vulnerable Americans who face a greater risk of death from COVID-19 in such a scenario.

Researchers at the University of Washington say a herd immunity strategy would likely lead to tens of thousands of additional deaths by the start of 2021.

Child cases have increased by almost 15% — 84,000 cases — in the first two weeks of October, according to an update from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association.

Since the start of the crisis, about 740,000 children have tested positive in the United States — almost 11% of total cases, it said. The overall infection rate is 986 per 100,000 children.

Though severe illness and deaths still appear to be rare among children, the groups urged authorities to “provide detailed reports on COVID-19 cases, testing, hospitalizations and mortality by age and race/ethnicity so that the effects of COVID-19 on children’s health can be documented and monitored.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday there have been about 300,000 deaths more than normal so far this year due to the pandemic.

In a typical year, the CDC said, there are about 1.9 million deaths from all causes between February and October. This year, COVID-19 has pushed that figure to near 2.2 million, an increase of 14.5%.

About 200,000 of the extra deaths may be attributed to

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Health experts say ‘herd immunity’ strategy would kill thousands

Public health experts are growing alarmed that the Trump administration is increasingly embracing scientists who argue against lockdowns and restrictions as a means to control the coronavirus pandemic.

Those scientists maintain that the costs of locking down society and closing schools and businesses outweighs their benefits in combatting the virus. In a document known as the Great Barrington Declaration, signed earlier this month, they embrace a concept known as “herd immunity,” in which a population builds up enough resistance to a pathogen that it runs out of victims to infect.

On a call with reporters on Monday, two senior White House officials cited the declaration, authored in part by an economist with close ties to Scott Atlas, the radiologist who has become one of Trump’s chief advisors on the coronavirus pandemic.

But to public health experts, allowing the virus to run its deadly and devastating course is an unacceptable option that would lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths beyond the 217,000 Americans who have already succumbed to the disease.

“If you just let things rip and let the infection go, no masks, crowd, it doesn’t make any difference, that quite frankly, George, is ridiculous,” Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTrump fields questions on coronavirus, conspiracy theories in combative town hall Chris Christie says he ‘was wrong’ not to wear face mask at White House Overnight Health Care: Georgia gets Trump approval for Medicaid work requirements, partial expansion | McConnell shoots down .8 trillion coronavirus deal MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosSix takeaways from Trump and Biden’s dueling town halls Biden draws sharp contrast with Trump in low-key town hall Biden leaves door open to adding Supreme Court justices MORE on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday.

“You’ll wind up with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalizations and deaths. So I think we’ve just got to look that square in the eye and say it’s nonsense,” Fauci added.

In a statement Thursday, groups like the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the American Public Health Association, the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and the Public Health Institute condemned the declaration and the flaws in its arguments.

“Covid-19 carries a much higher risk of severe disease and death than other infections where herd immunity was attempted before a vaccine was available,” the groups said. “It is illogical to ignore public health and scientific evidence when so many lives are at stake.”

Some experts pointed to an underlying flaw of the declaration: An assumption that someone who has recovered from the coronavirus will become immune to reinfection in the future.

“We just don’t really understand coronavirus immunology well enough to know whether this is going to be a minor, moderate or major concern,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention at the University of Minnesota. “We have learned so much about Covid-19 over the course of

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