One of the most remarkable dimensions of the COVID19 Crisis is the way the most garish or clownish versions of class division and privilege are pushed so aggressively to the fore. As we’ve discussed earlier, billionaires are eager to get back to work or rather eager to get you back to work. No less remarkable, they’re eager to talk to reporters or go on TV and make their argument. Now we have hedge fund chief Ricky Sandler, CEO of Eminence Capital, who has announced that America needs to get behind herd immunity. On a CNBC appearance yesterday he lamented “how the politicians and the media and the academic community and the scientific community have taken hold of this debate,” and announced it’s time to push on to herd immunity.
‘Herd immunity’ isn’t something you get behind or don’t get behind. It’s simply an epidemiological fact. Once a threshold number of people in a population develop immunity (at a minimum over 60%) a disease lacks a critical mass of people to use as vectors for infection. So rates of transmission drop. Vaccination programs rely on this to a significant degree since not every last person can get vaccinated. Vaccination programs often rely on herd immunity to make it possible for those with compromised immune systems or other health risks to not get vaccinated themselves but be protected by the immunity of the community at large.
In the current debate ‘herd immunity’ means halting the spread of the disease by letting everyone get sick, or letting all but the most vulnerable get sick on the theory that you can effectively separate the most vulnerable from everyone else.
Sandler created this website, ichooseherdimmunity.com which features an open letter you can sign on to supporting herd immunity as new government policy. It concludes with a quote from Nelson Mandela.
Here are highlights from an appearance he did yesterday on CNBC.