Letting young people infect each other: the shocking proposal of an infectious disease specialist is controversial
In an interview with France's Le Parisien newspaper, infectious disease specialist Eric Caumes proposed "letting young people infect each other" to achieve collective immunity. Many doctors criticize this strategy, suggested by the professor, to stop the Covid-19 epidemic.
In France, the number of Covid-19 positive cases has increased in recent weeks. Given this increase in the incidence rate of the coronavirus, Eric Caumes, an infectious disease specialist at Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris, calls on the government to change its strategy to combat the pandemic. In Le Parisien columns, the teacher suggests letting young people between the ages of 20 and 30 contaminate each other.
"We won't be able to put the mask on them everywhere and ban them from meeting, especially in the middle of the summer. It may not be politically correct, but I think more and more we should let them contaminate each other as long as they don't see their parents or to your grandparents, "suggested the infectious disease specialist. Otherwise, youth will be a reservoir of contamination and we will end an unmanageable epidemic. Let's not stigmatize them, let's tell them to respect the elderly. By letting them become contaminated, they will participate in the collective immunity and it will be more important at the beginning of the school year , in schools and universities, even if this has consequences, "he continued.
Would allowing young people to infect each other strengthen collective immunity?
To stop the Covid-19 epidemic, many countries are betting on collective immunity. The "collective immunity", which is presented as a solution to get out of the pandemic, corresponds to the level of immunological protection of a population against the virus. If this collective immunity is obtained, many people will be immune to Covid-19. Conclusion: the risk of transmitting the virus will be less because it will circulate less.
According to several doctors, the idea proposed by Professor Eric Caumes to achieve collective immunity is a bad idea. "Young people go to the bakery, the baker is not necessarily young, they go to the pharmacy, the supermarket, the doctor. They know people of all ages all the time, so it's a totally wrong idea," said epidemiologist Catherine Hill to BFMTV. According to her, her strategy does not retain water: "to achieve collective immunity, two thirds of the people would have to have had the virus, and even if all young people had the virus, they would not be two thirds of the population."
The epidemiologist is not the only one to criticize the proposal of the infectious diseases specialist. If "we allow the virus to spread among young people, we have no guarantee that transmission will not occur between them and the elderly or at risk," explained Dr. Bruno Mégarbane, head of the medical and toxicological intensive care unit. from the Lariboisière hospital.
"Young people are not invincible" warns WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) made it clear at the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic that people of all ages can become infected with Covid-19 and advised everyone to protect themselves from it. During a press conference last Thursday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, wanted to issue a warning. "We have said it and we are saying it again: young people can become infected, young people can die and young people can transmit the virus," he insisted.
"It appears that the rebounds in some countries are due in part to youth dropping their guard over the summer in the northern hemisphere," said the managing director. He invites young people to "take the same precautions as others to protect themselves from the virus and protect others." Because, as Professor Eric Caumes reported to Le Parisien, "young people can also have serious forms."
Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO chief of health emergencies, reminded the press conference that the disease can affect multiple organs. "We don't know what the long-term impact is. Don't take reckless risks. The risks today cannot be clearly quantified," he warned.