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 COVID-19, it said.