Letters to the Editor: Herd immunity, or culling the herd? Don’t mess with COVID-19

Temperature check
A healthcare worker takes a patient’s temperature before she undergoes testing for COVID-19 at the Camarena Health Center in Madera, Calif., on April 8.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: There has been talk here in the U.S. as well as Israel about using herd immunity developed by intentionally infecting healthy volunteers to stop COVID-19 from wreaking havoc on economies.

Problem is, we don’t know enough about this virus. There is no natural herd immunity for some harmful viruses, which is why vaccines are the only safeguard against them. That’s why we have a measles vaccine.

It’s important to respect these viruses and protect lives. Otherwise, trying to develop untested herd immunity by intentionally infecting volunteers may just be another way of culling the herd.

Barbara Snider, Huntington Beach



To the editor: Israeli researchers propose recruiting waves of volunteers in their 20s, 30s and 40s to be deliberately infected with COVID-19, creating a “controlled avalanche” to achieve herd immunity. Johns Hopkins University bioethicist Jeffrey Kahn objects, saying there is insufficient data to analyze the risk-benefit balance necessary to justify such an experiment.

The U.S. is incurring trillions of dollars in costs in an experiment to reduce COVID-19 deaths. Presumably there is sufficient data to analyze the risk-benefit balance justifying that experiment.

Why isn’t that data sufficient to justify the much smaller Israeli test?

Gerry Swider, Sherman Oaks