Herd Immunity - What is it?

Herd immunity is a concept that's been around for almost a hundred years.  Should we want to keep dodging SARS-CoV2, or just catch it & get it over with? (And what about "cross-reactivity" - when your body's exposure in the past to similar viruses enables your immune system to mount a successful defense against a new virus?)

Listen at the HighWire as they explore the back-and-forth evolution at the World Health Organization of the definition of "herd immunity", and discuss whether the COVID-19 vaccines can achieve it.  

Essentially, "herd immunity" is what we call it when the virus runs out of victims. 

Everyone who CAN catch the virus HAS caught it, and there's no one left for the virus to spread to, easily.  No more victims in sight, or very few.

In recent years, the medical establishment has accepted the notion that vaccination confers the same kind of "community immunity" as the natural infection.  Multiple outbreaks over the years of pertussis (whooping cough), measles, and mumps in fully-vaccinated populations have shown this assumption to be in error.

Not only is vaccination "immunity" not long-lasting, but it is of inferior quality to post-infection, natural immunity.  Once upon a time, for example, infants were protected from measles for the first year or two of life by their mother's measles antibodies, which she passed to the unborn baby first in utero, and later in her breastmilk.

Not only is vaccination "immunity" not long-lasting, but it is of inferior quality to post-infection, natural immunity.

Now, vaccinated mothers offer little to no protection for their infants, because the antibody levels are very low in vaccinated mothers.  What this means is that the MOST VULNERABLE HUMANS, infants, are now at higher risk for measles at a time in their lives when it could actually be dangerous, unlike age-appropriate childhood measles, which rarely have complications in countries with adequate nutrition.

Exploring this topic in depth, let's focus on MEASLES.

An Open Letter to Legislators Currently Considering Vaccine Legislation
from Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD 

...Measles research scientists have for a long time been aware of the "measles paradox."

"The apparent paradox is that as measles immunization rates rise to high levels in a population, measles becomes a disease of immunized persons."

Failure to Reach the Goal of Measles Elimination
Apparent Paradox of Measles Infections in Immunized Persons


Further research determined that behind the “measles paradox” is a fraction of the population called LOW VACCINE RESPONDERS.  Low-responders are those who respond poorly to the first dose of the measles vaccine.  These individuals then mount a weak immune response to subsequent RE-vaccination and quickly return to the pool of susceptibles’’ within 2-5 years, despite being fully vaccinated.[3] Poland (1998) Am J Hum Genet 62:215-220 

Variability in immune response to pathogens: using measles vaccine to probe immunogenetic determinants of response

Variability in Immune Response to Pathogens - Dr G Poland

Re-vaccination cannot correct low-responsiveness: it appears to be an immuno-genetic trait.  

“ ‘poor responders,’ who were re-immunized and developed poor or low-level antibody responses only to lose detectable antibody and develop measles on exposure 2–5 years later.” 

“Our ongoing studies suggest that seronegativity after vaccination [for measles] clusters among related family members, that genetic polymorphisms within the HLA [genes] significantly influence antibody levels.” 

The proportion of low-responders among children was estimated to be 4.7% in the USA.  LeBaron et al. (2007) Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 161:294-301     

Persistence of measles antibodies after 2 doses of measles vaccine in a post-elimination environment


“Titers fell significantly over time [after second MMR] for the study population overall and, by the final collection, 4.7% of children were potentially susceptible.” 

Studies of measles outbreaks in Quebec, Canada, and China attest that outbreaks of measles still happen, even when vaccination compliance is in the highest bracket (95-97% or even 99%, see appendix for scientific studies, Items #6&7). 

This is because even in high vaccine responders, vaccine-induced antibodies wane over time.  Vaccine immunity does not equal life-long immunity acquired after natural exposure. 

It has been documented that vaccinated persons who develop breakthrough measles are contagious.  In fact, two major measles outbreaks in 2011 (in Quebec, Canada, and in New York, NY) were re-imported by previously vaccinated individuals.  De Serres et al. (2013) J Infect Dis 207:990-998   

Largest measles epidemic in North America in a decade--Quebec, Canada, 2011:
contribution of susceptibility, serendipity, and superspreading events


“The index case patient received measles vaccine in childhood.”  Rosen et al. (2014) Clin Infect Dis 58:1205-1210 

Outbreak of measles among persons with prior evidence of immunity, New York City, 2011


“The index patient had 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine.” 

WHO Deletes Naturally Acquired Immunity from Its Website

Though this article focuses on the inconsistencies at WHO, there are good descriptions of "herd immunity" .

By Jeffrey A. Tucker at AIER.com

"...when a virus kills its host – that is, when a virus overtaxes the body’s ability to integrate it, its host dies and so the virus does not spread to others. The more this occurs, the less it spreads. If the virus doesn’t kill its host, it can hop to others through all the usual means. When you get a virus and fight it off, your immune system encodes that information in a way that builds immunity to it. When it happens to enough people (and each case is different so we can’t put a clear number on it, especially given so many cross immunities) the virus loses its pandemic quality and becomes endemic, which is to say predictable and manageable. Each new generation incorporates that information through more exposure. 

"This is what one would call Virology/Immunology 101. It’s what you read in every textbook. It’s been taught in 9th grade cell biology for probably 80 years. Observing the operations of this evolutionary phenomenon is pretty wonderful because it increases one’s respect for the way in which human biology has adapted to the presence of pathogens without absolutely freaking out."   Read full article

Does Sweden Have Herd Immunity?  Here's a Graph They Don't Want You to See

By Sebastian Rushworth M.D.

"In the last few weeks the number of people being treated for covid in hospitals in Sweden has been dropping rapidly, as has the share of PCR-tests that are coming back positive. There is much discussion in the media about what the cause might be. Everyone seems to be very surprised. Is it because people are better at working from home? Or because people aren’t traveling as much? Or because more people are wearing face masks?

"No-one is discussing the obvious explanation – that so many people have now had covid, and have developed immunity, that the virus is having difficulty finding new hosts. In other words, Sweden’s oddly controversial “herd immunity” strategy worked."  Full article

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