immunity

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Sidra Medicine ‘test’ to aid the call for immunity passports

Scientists at Qatar Foundation’s Sidra Medicine are working on developing a better antibody test that provides more detailed information than existing commercial assays for Covid-19 antibodies.

This is expected to make life easier during the pandemic times by identifying and certifying people who have developed immunity to the virus, making them safer candidates for travel and work.
“Immunity passports” is a huge area of interest for governments and researchers alike .The idea is that someone who has already recovered from Covid-19 develops antibodies to the virus that will remain in their body for at least a few months. This means they are much less likely to be re-infected and develop symptoms from the virus, making them safer candidates for travel and work.
However, the use of immunity passports has been hampered partly by inaccurate testing. A false positive antibody test in a person who is not immune may lead that individual to believe that they are immune and engage in high-risk activities that may lead to a true infection. A false negative antibody test may cause an individual, who is already immune, to be unnecessarily re-screened for the virus for travel or work-related purposes.
The test that scientists at Sidra Medicine are working looks at multiple types of antibodies against the different protein components of the Covid-19 virus, as well as against the other common human coronaviruses.
The test is also high-throughput and, because it has been developed locally, less expensive than all commercially available tests. The preliminary results show that the test developed by Sidra Medicine is much more accurate than the currently available antibody tests and provides more detailed information about each person’s immune response.
But does this mean that those who test positive for antibodies against other coronaviruses could also be immune to Covid-19? Or potentially face milder symptoms or be asymptomatic? “That’s the million-dollar question,” says Dr Jean-Charles Grivel, director at the Deep Phenotyping Core at Sidra Medicine whose team is working on the new serology assay.
“There are seven human coronaviruses. Our assay measures reactivity against all of them, unlike most commercial assays. We are working with other entities in Qatar to figure out if antibodies to other coronaviruses impacts immunity and how it affects the clinical trajectory of infected patients.”
Dr Grivel’s team at the Deep Phenotyping Core consists of Igor Pavlovski and Selma Maacha who have been instrumental in conducting the research for Sidra Medicine’s serological tests.
Dr Patrick Tang, division chief, Pathology Sciences at Sidra Medicine said that if this test can be applied to a larger population, it would definitely improve the accuracy of the results.
“Commercially available serology tests have an accuracy rate of about 85 to 90%. If we had a more accurate serology test, we have a greater degree of assurance about who is immune and not likely to become symptomatic if exposed to the virus again. This would mean that these people would be safe for customer-facing duties, or to travel or participate in public gatherings and

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‘India’s traditional medicine helped boost immunity in COVID-19 crisis’



Narendra Modi posing for the camera: Prime Minister Narendra Modi


© Provided by Mid-Day
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that during the Corona crisis, when there was no specific solution against the pandemic, Indian traditional medicinal therapy proved to be very effective in boosting immunity.

“In these difficult times, when there was no specific solution against the Corona, traditional Indian medicinal methods like turmeric, milk, Kadha proved as immunity boosters. It is important that such rich traditional knowledge needs to be integrated into the modern healthcare system. Working on this approach, we have included Ayurved as a prime portion in India’s health policy. In this year’s monsoon session of Parliament, two bills were passed to form the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine and the National Commission for Homeopathy. Even in our new education policy, in medical education, we have emphasised on an integrated approach, where a basic knowledge of Ayurveda in modern allopathic medicinal education and a basic knowledge of allopathy in ayurvedic medicinal education have been stressed,” said the PM.

The Prime Minister was speaking during the virtual dedication programme of Jamnagar-based ITRA and Jaipur based National Institute of Ayurveda (NIA). ITRA was given the recognition as an institute of national importance while NIA, Jaipur was given recognition as a deemed university.

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“Today, the fifth Ayurveda Day, is a special both for Gujarat as well as Rajasthan. I wish that both these ayurvedic institutes will emerge as centres for getting Indian traditional medicine global recognition. Ayurveda is gaining more and more importance globally whether it is America or Germany. Today Brazil’s policies have included Ayurved. Even the WHO has chosen India as the Global Centre for traditional medicine and I thank Doctor Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus for choosing India. I believe that India will emerge as a leader in global wellness,” the PM added.

“In 21st century India, the challenges of health are being solved with holistic approach and wellness is focused more in preventive medicine. Our government is focused on these areas. On the one hand cleanliness, sanitisation, clear water, smoke-free cooking and on the other hand more than 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres are being set up across the nation where more than 12.5 thousand centres are solely based on Ayurveda,” added Modi.

“In these times, when we need to focus on an integrated approach of combining Indian traditional medicine with modern medicine, I request the ministry of education and also the UGC to prepare and workout integrated doctoral and postdoctoral syllabus based on this integration,” added Modi.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who was present at the dedication function at Jamnagar Institute, said, “I thank the Prime Minister and the Union Minister of State of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, Shripad Naik for giving recognition to our Ayurveda university. We are glad and proud that our state university is getting such a recognition. Gujarat has a rich history of ayurvedic knowledge. Even before independence, there were Ayurveda schools across many parts of the

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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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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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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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Opinion | Tom Frieden: A herd immunity plan could mean the deaths of 500,000 more Americans

Their aim is to achieve “herd immunity,” the concept that if enough people are immune, those without immunity can be protected. Usually this refers to immunity gained from vaccination; the goal of herd immunity has typically not been applied to a disease for which there is no vaccine.

There is a saying that for every complicated problem, a solution exists that is quick, simple — and wrong. That applies here: Pursuing herd immunity is the wrong, dead wrong, solution for the pandemic. Discussing such a reckless approach shouldn’t be necessary, except that it echoes the misguided ideas of neuroradiologist Scott Atlas, who in recent months has become an influential medical adviser to President Trump.

Atlas, The Post reported, has relied on similar-minded scientists “to bolster his in-house arguments.”

Less than 15 percent of Americans have been infected by the virus that causes covid-19. If immunity among those who have been infected and survived is strong and long-lasting (and it may well be neither), and if herd immunity kicks in at 60 percent infection of the population (and it might be higher), with a fatality rate of 0.5 percent among those infected, then at least another half-million Americans — in addition to the 220,000 who have already died — would have to die for the country to achieve herd immunity. And that’s the best-case scenario. The number of deaths to get there could be twice as high.

The route to herd immunity would run through graveyards filled with Americans who did not have to die, because what starts in young adults doesn’t stay in young adults. “Protecting the vulnerable,” however appealing it may sound, isn’t plausible if the virus is allowed to freely spread among younger people. We’ve seen this in families, communities and entire regions of the country. First come cases in young adults. Then the virus spreads to older adults and medically vulnerable people. Hospitalizations increase. And then deaths increase.

The vulnerable are not just a sliver of society. The 65-and-over population of the United States in 2018 was 52 million. As many as 60 percent of adults have a medical condition that increases their risk of death from covid-19 — with many unaware of their condition, which can include undiagnosed kidney disease, diabetes or cancer. The plain truth is that we cannot protect the vulnerable without protecting all of us.

A one-two punch is needed to knock out the virus — a combination approach, just as multiple drugs are used to treat infections such as HIV and tuberculosis. That in turn will allow the accelerated resumption of economic and social activity.

First, knock down the spread of the virus. The best way to do this is — as the country has been trying to do, with uneven success — to reduce close contact with others, especially in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation. Increase adherence to the Three W’s: wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands (or use sanitizer). Where restrictions have been loosened, track

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