Sweden’s “Herd Immunity” Strategist, JOHAN Giesecke, gets WHO promotion for his role in the coronavirus pandemic strategy in Sweden.
Sweden’s herd immunity plan has had both its supporters and its critics but one of the masterminds behind it, Johan Giesecke, has received a senior advisory position by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for his part in the “Herd Immunity” plan. Giesecke is now officially the vice-chair of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards.
The promotion was received after an overwhelming vote by members of the WHO. Giesecke will now advise the WHO on all things pandemic related.
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which has now affected 25 million people globally, Sweden took the immediate, and extremely controversial decision to a lockdown of its population. Sweden, under Giesecke’s advise, did not impose any particularly stringent conditions rather opting for voluntary measures should the public wish to take that decision individually.
The measure was a clear and concise bid to achieve “Herd Immunity” to the virus in the population.
“Herd Immunity” is considered a method of indirect protection of the population from an infectious disease or contagion. This process can occur through a vaccine or through exposure of the population to the virus. The exposure increase antibodies in the population and reduced the chance of infection.
As there is no vaccine at the current time for COVID-19, there is a difference of opinion across the globe as to how best approach the containment of the spread and how best to protect the public.
Giesecke, along with his mentor, Anders Tegnell, exchanged a number of email communications in March in which they discussed at length the process of herd immunity for the population of Sweden as the coronavirus outbreak started to spread.
Giesecke said, “I believe the virus is going to sweep like a storm over Sweden and infect basically everyone in one or two months…I believe that thousands are already infected in Sweden… it will all come to an end when so many have been infected and become therefore immune that the virus has nowhere else to go”
Giesecke clear assertions moving forward was that his belief was that everyone would become exposed to the COVID-19 virus and that, “There is very little we can do to prevent this spread: a lockdown might delay severe cases for a while, but once restrictions are eased, cases will reappear. I expect that when we count the number of deaths from COVID-19 in each country in one year from now, the figures will be similar, regardless of measures taken.”
His propositions were met with some resistance from the scientific community however he fully believed his position was correct.
Giesecke said, “If an efficacious vaccine is developed, mass produced, and distributed worldwide, then the crisis will be over,” he wrote. “The same goes for a preventive or truly curative antiviral therapy, so that there will be no severe cases or deaths. I hope for one or both of these, and soon.”
The double-edged sword of “Herd Immunity” resulted in a mixed reaction. In the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic there were clearly more deaths in Sweden than other European countries with European communities and scientists branding it an irresponsible strategy however a recent analysis of Sweden’s strategy demonstrates better overall results for public health.
Giesecke has now openly stated, “Back then they thought we were crazy,”
However, he also highlighted the need for caution stating, “You should wait one year or maybe five years before comparing strategies. We still have a long way to go in this pandemic.”
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