Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth encouraged healthy Americans to “have some courage” and defy social distancing orders in order to get sick with COVID-19.
“Herd immunity is our friend,” Hegseth said in an appearance on Fox News’ “Outnumbered” Thursday. He was referring to the phenomenon in which a sufficient number of people become immune from a disease such that spread of that disease is slowed.
“Healthy people getting out there, they’re going to have to have some courage,” Hegseth said, citing Texas as a state where “people are defying ridiculous orders.”
“That takes courage, that’s not easy,” he added. “So I think that spirit, the American spirit, frankly, is in full supply and ready to go — if some of our experts and some of our leaders will just get out of their way.”
Those experts, Hegseth said, “are drunk on power. It’s time to open up.”
"Herd immunity is our friend," Pete Hegseth says, urging people to "have some courage." pic.twitter.com/IRVAJRLRS5
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) May 7, 2020
Without a vaccine for COVID-19, “herd immunity” would mean a critical mass of people becoming infected with the novel coronavirus.
Still, the World Health Organization has warned that “there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”
Public health experts warn that using herd immunity as an anti-COVID-19 strategy would lead to many otherwise avoidable deaths.
Carl T. Bergstrom and Natalie Dean, a biologist and biostatistician respectively, addressed that issue in a recent New York Times op-ed.
“[E]ven assuming that immunity is long-lasting, a very large number of people must be infected to reach the herd immunity threshold required,” they wrote. “Given that current estimates suggest roughly 0.5 percent to 1 percent of all infections are fatal, that means a lot of deaths.”
In addition, they pointed out, the virus won’t “magically disappear” once herd immunity is achieved. Rather, “it could continue for months after herd immunity was reached, infecting many more millions in the process.”