Epidemiologist: Coronavirus could be ‘exterminated’ if lockdowns lifted

By WND Staff

Kurt Wittkowski, Ph.D. (video screenshot)

The unprecedented policy of mass quarantine to “flatten the curve” is only prolonging the coronavirus pandemic, contends a veteran scholar of epidemiology.

The virus could be “exterminated” within weeks if people were allowed to lead normal lives and the vulnerable were sheltered until the virus passes, said Knut Wittkowski, Ph.D., the former head of the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design at the Rockefeller University in New York City.

“[W]hat people are trying to do is flatten the curve. I don’t really know why,” he said in an interview with The Press and The Public Project that was featured by The College Fix.

“But, what happens is if you flatten the curve, you also prolong, to widen it, and it takes more time,” he explained. “And I don’t see a good reason for a respiratory disease to stay in the population longer than necessary.”

Wittkowski said the only thing that stops respiratory diseases is herd immunity.

Herd immunity happens when a large percentage of a population becomes immune to an infectious disease, which stops its spread.

“About 80% of the people need to have had contact with the virus, and the majority of them won’t even have recognized that they were infected, or they had very, very mild symptoms, especially if they are children,” he said.

“So, it’s very important to keep the schools open and kids mingling to spread the virus to get herd immunity as fast as possible,” said Wittkowski.

At the same time, the elderly should be separated and the nursing homes closed.

After about four weeks, with the virus exterminated, he said, their children and grandchildren can return.

Wittkowski said the standard cycle of respiratory diseases is two weeks, after which “it’s gone.”

Even through “social distancing,” the epidemiologist said, the virus find ways to spread, albeit more slowly.

“You cannot stop the spread of a respiratory disease within a family, and you cannot stop it from spreading with neighbors, with people who are delivering, who are physicians — anybody,” he said.

“People are social, and even in times of social distancing, they have contacts; and any of those contacts could spread the disease,” said Wittkowski.

“It will go slowly, and so it will not build up herd immunity, but it will happen. And it will go on forever unless we let it go,” he said.

Wittkowski was asked his opinion of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the key medical expert on the White House coronavirus task force who has promoted the mass quarantine strategy.

“Well, I’m not paid by the government, so I’m entitled to actually do science,” he replied.

Why is this virus being handled differently than others, such as the swine flu in 2009?

One factor, he said, is the growth of the internet, which spreads news quickly, whether true or false, fueling panic.

“These stories are circulating the world and contributing to chaos and to people being afraid of things they shouldn’t be afraid of,” he said.

See the interview:


UPDATE: Nearly a week after WND’s story was originally published, the Rockefeller University weighed in on Wittkowski’s comments, saying:

“The opinions that have been expressed by Knut Wittkowski, discouraging social distancing in order to hasten the development of herd immunity to the novel coronavirus, do not represent the views of The Rockefeller University, its leadership, or its faculty.”

Wittkowski’s views also have considerable opposition among scientists across the globe.

A letter signed by more than 500 scientists in Britain explained: “Going for ‘herd immunity’ at this point does not seem a viable option, as this will put (Britain’s National Health Service) at an even stronger level of stress, risking many more lives than necessary.”

James Whitney, principal investigator at the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, told USA Today that COVID-19’s unknown mutation rate poses uncertainty for reaching herd immunity.

“The short answer is we don’t know enough right now to say if infection will offer complete protection,” Whitney said. “Everyone walking around hoping to engender herd immunity is probably not the best scenario. I would say a vaccine is probably the best way and the most durable way to engender herd immunity.”

And while herd immunity can be achieved through infection, “you don’t rely on the very deadly infectious agent to create an immune population,” Akiko Iwasaki, a virologist at the Yale School of Medicine, told The Atlantic.

Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Harvard University, told USA Today that between the two options of achieving herd immunity through infection versus vaccination, “I would certainly advocate for the latter.”

“With most viral infections, when someone gets infected and then recovers, they develop immunity at least for a period of time and cannot be reinfected. That’s true for most viruses. It’s not true for all viruses,” Barouch added. “For COVID-19, we don’t know yet. We don’t yet have definitive proof whether there’s natural protective immunity.”

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