Public Health Experts Pen Open Letter Saying Herd Immunity Could Lead to 30,000 more Michigan Deaths
Monday, five public health experts sent an open letter to Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey explaining the problems with his recent comments on herd immunity.
On October 10, an MLive article published comments by Senate Majority Leader Shirkey where he said, “I’m also a big believer that there’s an element of herd immunity that needs to take place.”
In their letter, the public health experts said, “If ‘herd immunity’ were to begin after about 80% of the state’s population has been infected, as some believe, then 6.5 million more Michiganders would still need to contract COVID-19. At the current mortality rate, this would mean more than 30,000 additional deaths more than four times the number of deaths to date. A much better alternative would be to control the spread of the coronavirus through policies based on evidence, followed by broad use of a safe and effective vaccine when available. We ask that you clarify your remarks about herd immunity to avoid leaving the impression that a leader of your stature is supporting greater spread of coronavirus as public policy.”
The public health experts also requested that the Senate convene a hearing with recognized experts in public health and medicine so legislators can better understand the nature of the virus and how to best respond.
They said, “such a hearing would give experts the opportunity to share evidence, as well as provide Senators the chance to ask questions about the virus, its spread, and what can be done to save more lives.”
The letter was signed by:
- Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D. Professor of the Practice in Health Policy and Management Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Thomas M. File, Jr., MD, MSc, FIDSA President, Infectious Diseases Society of America
- Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. President and Chief Executive Officer Resolve to Save Lives, an Initiative of Vital Strategies Former Director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Ashish K. Jha, M.D., M.P.H. Dean Brown University School of Public Health
- Carlos Del Rio, M.D. Distinguished Professor Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases Emory University School of Medicine