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Local infectious disease specialist discusses herd immunity in COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 4:12 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As the number of COVID-19 cases in our area continues to rise so does the number of people listed as out-of-isolation.

“It’s going to be critical for Brown County to double down and do what is necessary for us to continue to fight this pandemic in a manner that allows us to have some normalcy in life,” said Troy Streckenbach, Brown County Executive.

“You hear people talk about, ‘What is the level of immunity in their country or their region?’” said Dr. Michael Landrum, Infectious Disease Specialist with Bellin Health.

It is referred to as herd immunity.

“As more and more people get infected and recover, then we would have increasing levels of immunity,” said Dr. Landrum.

Medical experts agree the safest way to gain immunity to any infection is with a vaccine. The other way to do it is through national infection.

“I mean, right now in Wisconsin specifically, we’ve had maybe 1-percent of the population infected,” said Dr. Landrum. “So, we would have to have 60 times more infections to get herd immunity to a level where that would be effective.”

He adds that building up that level of immunity takes time and would come at the cost of unnecessary deaths.

“You multiply the number of cases, the number of people that have already passed away, and you multiply that times 60,” said Dr. Landrum. “I mean, right now I think we’re at 800 deaths roughly in the State of Wisconsin, so that’s a lot more deaths, like 50,000 people in the State of Wisconsin dying from coronavirus.”

The doctor encourages everyone to continue wearing masks and social distancing when out in public not just for themselves but for others. “With infectious disease, what I do, the decisions I do impact the people I come into contact with and then the people that those people come into contact with.”

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