Recently, a regular letter writer, who also happens to be a physician and active member of the FH Tea Party, wrote to educate us on the positive aspects of more young people getting COVID-19 and the resulting positive impact on herd immunity. He writes that they usually don’t die and, if they survive, it helps herd immunity. He states, “more cases might actually help the population.”
There was no mention of any costs associated with gaining herd immunity. As we know, young people getting the virus does not happen in a bubble. Long before herd immunity is achieved, thousands of vulnerable people will die. He does mention that his letter should not be considered personal medical advice. I’m guessing touting lots of people getting sick during a pandemic is not covered by malpractice insurance.
On July 13, the GOP Governor of Mississippi took a hard look at herd immunity. His research had found 80 percent of the population must be infected to reach herd immunity. This would overwhelm the health care system in his state. He adds that this is not a realistic solution. According to a write-up in Mayo, without a vaccine, about 70 percent of the population needs to be infected for herd immunity.
For Arizona, 70 percent would mean about 5 million more cases. With our current death rate of about 2 percent, more than 97,000 additional deaths would occur to gain herd immunity. As for Fountain Hills, approximately 17,500 would be infected, resulting in about 350 deaths. Currently, about 72 percent of Arizona deaths are people over 65.
After counting the dead, we could try to calculate the other costs of over 5 million infections. Some will have no symptoms, but others will travel to death’s door. Arizona’s heath care system is currently about to explode with only 150,000 cases.