5 Apr. 2021 21:02 clock
An Amish community in Pennsylvania is the first in the United States to be alleged to have achieved herd immunity to COVID-19. When members resumed services last spring, 90 percent of their households were reportedly infected with the virus.
An Amish community in Pennsylvania is the first subpopulation in the United States to have achieved herd immunity to COVID-19. The manager of the medical center in the heart of the Amish community in New Holland Borough estimates so reported the Daily Mailthat up to 90 percent of families there have had at least one infected family member since then, and that this religious enclave has achieved something no other community in the US has: herd immunity.
Allen Hoover, an Amish man and administrator of the Parochial Medical Center – a clinic that primarily serves the surrounding Amish communities – said without giving any specific figures:
“You’d think if COVID is as contagious as they say it would be like a tsunami; and it was.”
Public health workers and epidemiologists confirmed the corona outbreak described by Hoover last year. They did, however, express concern that misperceptions of herd immunity in a population that makes up 8 percent of Lancaster County could jeopardize “Coronavirus pandemic measures”.
Hoover further notes that belief in herd immunity has led Amish members to ease key measures to contain the disease, such as masking requirements and social distancing. The Amish, who are not very willing to vaccinate, no longer see any reason to get vaccinated.
Some infectious disease experts have been critical of the belief that the Amish community has achieved herd immunity. They pointed out that if this were not the case, previous infections and existing antibodies could offer only limited protection.
Eric Lofgren, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Washington State University, said:
“Herd immunity only exists at a certain point in time. It is not a switch that, once flicked, is permanently on. It will wear off again.”
Herdenimmunität occurs whenever a sufficient number of people are immune to a disease to prevent a virus from finding new hosts, thus protecting the wider population. Immunity can be achieved either through recovery from infection or through vaccination.
The more communicable a disease is, the higher the percentage of the population must be that is immune. Scientists originally estimated that 60 to 70 percent of the population would have to acquire resistance in order to achieve the desired result of herd immunity.
The Amish community in Lancaster County, which includes both Amish and Mennonites, is not insignificant. The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College estimates it to make up nearly 8 percent of the county’s population out of a total of just over 545,000 residents. Either way, the religious community continues to offer an interesting field of research for scientists.
More on the subject – Sucharit Bhakdi adds a new book: Vaccinated people are part of a “huge experiment”