‘Open up everything!’ Michigan GOP’s push for herd immunity on COVID

Anthony Ognjan, an infectious disease physician, says the COVID-19 pandemic must peter out on its own. (Bridge photo by Robin Erb)

Oct. 21: Michigan business leaders urge Whitmer and Republicans to unite on COVID

He’s probably not going to make friends, he admits. 

But the early autumn upswing in Michigan COVID-19 cases only reinforces his point, said Dr. Anthony Ognjan, an infectious disease specialist at McLaren Macomb hospital: 

You can’t stop a pandemic.

And if you can’t stop it, it’s time to let it go.

 

“Maybe what we should do is just unleash the Kraken — you know, let the kids go to school, to college. Open up everything. Stop this crazy testing — unless somebody gets sick, then test them and treat them,” he said. “But just let the pandemic do what it does.”

Ognjan’s view — dismissed as unethical and deadly by many in the medical establishment — appears to align with that of a top state Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey of Clarklake. Shirkey has pushed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for months to robustly open Michigan’s economy, arguing that it’s fantasy to believe COVID-19 can be contained by state mandates. 

The state, Shirkey argues, should allow the coronavirus to spread in the hopes of achieving “herd immunity.”  

Related stories:

“Nobody should be misled here or of the opinion that you can keep it from spreading — it’s going to spread, so we just do the best we can,” he told MLive after a weekend rally protesting COVID restrictions. “I’m also a big believer that there’s an element of herd immunity that needs to take place.”

Herd immunity as a pandemic strategy has gained steam among (mostly) conservative politicians and a minority of medical and public health authorities. Ognjan and others contend that letting go of state lockdowns and social-distancing mandates would push the pandemic through society like a “tsunami,” but ultimately help hasten the virus’s natural death.

Shirkey’s view has gained scrutiny since the Michigan Supreme Court on Oct. 2 ended Whitmer’s ability to issue emergency orders without the Republican-led Legislature’s input. (The governor has since sought to institute similar mandates through the state health department.) 

Shirkey told Bridge Michigan after the ruling it was time for the state to move toward “managing and learning to live with this virus.”

It’s a posture long embraced by the White House. Dr. Scott Atlas, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has pushed to end the most severe pandemic policies, tweeting Saturday: “Protect the vulnerable and OPEN schools and society. That is the science!”

But this approach is broadly rejected by U.S. public health bodies, as well as the United Nations and World Health Organization, which on Monday called the strategy “unethical.” 

Public health leaders have consistently endorsed closing non-essential, in-person commerce when necessary during the height of the pandemic, and requiring masks and social distancing protocols, even when weighed against the economic hardships of such measures. 

“By trying to crush this pandemic, we are actually creating it to last longer.”

 - Dr. Anthony Ognjan, infectious disease specialist at McLaren Macomb

In Michigan, Whitmer issued a series of orders beginning in March that essentially shuttered nonessential businesses, schools and non-urgent medical care. Canceled, too, were in-school classes, end-of-year parties and large gatherings, along with indoor mask and social distancing requirements. As they closed, COVID cases in Michigan began to fall overall, as did deaths and hospitalizations.

But by mid-summer, Whitmer began allowing much of the state’s economy to reopen, and tourism began to pick up. In August, some students returned to classrooms and college campuses. 

And as summer turned to fall, cases began to climb again, along with hospitalizations, though death rates remain far lower than in the surge last spring. As of Monday afternoon, Michigan had confirmed more than 135,000 infections and nearly 6,900 deaths tied to COVID. 

Shirkey’s recent remarks on herd immunity drew a harsh rebuke Monday from some leading health officials, including the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas Frieden. In a letter to Shirkey, the group predicted such an approach would result in millions of infections throughout Michigan and, at current rates, another 30,000 deaths. 

Herd immunity takes place when a large share of the population becomes immune to a disease, either because they have already contracted it or from a vaccine. When enough people become immune, it’s more difficult for a disease to spread and, in the best scenarios, it eventually dies out. 

The percentage of a population that must be immune to achieve herd immunity varies by the disease. For highly contagious diseases such as measles, 94 percent or more of a community must be immune to put an end to transmission. 

It’s unclear what the threshold will be for the new coronavirus, for which there is not yet a vaccine. But if 80 percent immunity is the mark, more than 6.5 million Michiganders will have to likely get sick and thousands more residents will die, according to the letter sent to Shirkey. 

Amid the criticism, however, some in the medical community are joining people like Shirkey and Ognjan in defending a herd immunity approach. 

An international group that includes infectious disease epidemiologists, researchers and scientists among its membership, last week published what it calls the Great Barrington Declaration, arguing that keeping economic restrictions “in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.”

The group was borne from a weekend meeting of the Great Barrington, Mass.-based American Institute for Economic Research, the “oldest pro-market institute in America,” according to the institute’s own description on Facebook

The group argues that economies can and should reopen while still allowing for “focused protection”; that is, continuing to shield the elderly and people with compromised health conditions while allowing more freedom to others.  

The declaration drew immediate criticism from other scientists

For his part, Ognjan said he recognizes he is an outlier, and is now also facing criticism.

“He is wrong,” Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told Bridge Michigan by email when asked about Ognjan’s position.

Benjamin said adopting a strategy that relies on herd immunity would leave millions dead from both the virus and an overloaded health system. Such a plan, he added, “would be malpractice [and] immoral.”

Allowing the virus to go unchecked to build herd immunity would be “immoral” said Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. (Courtesy photo)

Howard Markel, a University of Michigan medical researcher who has studied pandemics and wrote “When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America and the Fears They Have Unleashed,” called efforts to broadly reopen the state “incredibly dumb.”

The director of the Center for the History of Medicine at U-M, Markel has pushed for continuing social-distancing protocols that are “sweeping and enforced across a wide swath of the community.”

He also notes that it remains unknown whether exposure to COVID-19 and the resulting antibodies provide long-term relief.

Likewise, the serious, life-changing impacts of a COVID infection for those who survive are just now becoming clear, according to Dr. Dawn Misra, chair of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics department at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

“Even if we can accept that we will kill off a percentage on our way to herd immunity, are we willing to accept the unknown long-term effects [on COVID survivors] for a generation?” Misra said.

COVID-19 can leave survivors with health problems that could last a lifetime, said Dr. Dawn Misra, of Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. (Courtesy photo)

Standing outside McLaren Macomb in Mount Clemens last Thursday, Ognjan said he understands people’s unease with a strategy that allows a deadly pandemic to spread faster. His hospital colleagues have seen firsthand the devastation wrought by COVID-19. 

Nearby, large letters on the front lawn still string out “Not all heroes wear capes.” Hospital staff suffered post-traumatic stress as they watched patients die from the virus without families at their sides. A colleague at a nearby hospital nearly died as well, hooked to a ventilator for days.

But Ognjan builds his reasoning by contrasting COVID from two earlier pandemics, which he notes were far deadlier.

The bubonic plague in the 14th century killed more than 30 percent of the population of Europe. And just over a century ago, the 1918 influenza pandemic “circled the globe three times in 18 months, and it took out all age groups from kids to middle-aged people to older people,” he said.

Contrast that to the novel coronavirus, he said, where many people who are infected have no symptoms at all. And in the United States, the death rate remains relatively low — about 2.8 percent, or roughly 66 people per every 100,000 population, according to Johns Hopkins University. While COVID has killed people of all ages and health conditions, most deaths are among the aged and those with previous health challenges. 

“By some of our actions, we can blunt this pandemic,” Ognjan said. 

“We can’t stop it. Every time we stop the case, there are unintended consequences of interfering with the natural courses of pandemics and surges.”

Bridge Writer Jonathan Oosting contributed to this report.

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Comments

Anne
Mon, 10/12/2020 - 9:08pm

If this doctor believes that herd immunity is the correct path then why is he wearing a mask in the photo ? Does it only apply to others ? Look at New Zealand, they have controlled covid 19 through social distancing, masks, and extensive testing. The goal is to keep the covid 19 spread minimized to allow time for the medical and research communities to develop treatments and/or vaccines. Isn’t saving lives worth patience or is going out for a beer more important than someone’s life?

M
Mon, 10/12/2020 - 10:49pm

I think Shirkey should go first and deliberately infect himself, and don't forget to put your Superman shirt on first!

Mark Freeland
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 5:19pm

I think him and Preacher's boy should go first and provide 66 positive family members diagnose toward the first 100,000 doses of vaccine. Seems only fair to me.

David Frederick
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 6:06am

I notice he is wearing a mask

OMG!
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 4:10pm

Note to self: Buy a bracelet that says, "EMS: In case of accident or incapacitation, take me anywhere EXCEPT for McLaren Macomb!" That hospital must be a cesspool of germs with a dolt like that working there.

Agnosticrat 2.0
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 6:16am

We haven’t even tried one thing long enough to throw in the towel.
Shirkey at Valley Forge says I’m going home...
Or ancestors built pyramids... We only build indifference.

Agnosticrat 2.0
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 6:18am

Maybe if we throw enough people into the volcano it won’t be angry!

Don
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:16am

You do got a point<<< Why are the red state getting hit with very bad weather>>> their god Kinggod donald mad at them!!!!

mw
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 3:20pm

"Eventually COVID has to run out of people to kill or inflict with long-term health problems, right?" -GOP

G Scott
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 6:41am

Come on, open up everything! Let it roll through the population in waves. After all, only the most vulnerable among us may die. Are you maybe one of the vulnerable? Hmmmn. I hope you know...

William C. Plumpe
Thu, 10/15/2020 - 12:25pm

Shirkey's advice is all part of the Trump "health care plan" which is chilling in its simplicity and brutality.
Basically the plan says do everything you can to get vulnerable people sick so they die off and health insurance is less expensive because the population left to insure is younger and healthier.
Voila! Problem solved!
So Michigan opens up too soon and the most vulnerable catch the virus and die.
Problem solved!
The Affordable Care Act is scrapped and millions lose health insurance and die. Problem solved!
Republicans amend existing health care laws to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. Even more die. Problem solved!
Republicans in Congress pass a law charging an "age tax" on older Americans who buy health insurance. Many are on fixed incomes and can't afford coverage. More die.
Now we have only the healthiest people to insure so health insurance is so inexpensive anybody can afford it!
There you have the Republican plan.
Kill off the old and sick so not only is health insurance more affordable but we're healthier as a nation.
No thanks. I like the Democratic plan better. More chance of staying alive.

John
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 8:31am

There’s a difference between arguing that we should loosen up restrictions on the economy and schools WHILE keeping masking and social distancing in place and what these people advocate. One can reasonably argue that staying in near complete lockdown (as in April) is going too far and that we can accept greater risk in exchange for avoiding the many negative impacts of a lockdown.

The problem is that Shirkey and this doctor aren’t saying “open things up more but continue to require masks and social distancing”. Instead they’re arguing for an uncontrolled epidemic in the hope that herd immunity will establish itself after enough people are infected.

If they really believe that, they should volunteer to deliberately get infected and for their families to get infected too.

Marc Zigterman
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 8:54am

New Zealand.

Jeffrey Kless
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:12am

And by contrast we have Sweden. They were a joke as compared to Norway, Denmark and Finland.

George Hagenauer
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 1:51pm

New Zealand is an island and has heavily controlled people entering it since the pandemic hit. They like a number of places instead of locking down essentially locked people from outside out. Taiwan has had virtually no virus but they locked out early in January as soon as they heard strange things were happening in China. This meant mandatory quarantines for people including citizens entering the country strictly monitored but also with the country providing food o na daily basis for the people quarantined at home. This is hardly a herd immunity strategy. This type of strategy would have been like taking the upper peninsula and cutting it off from the state with grads at a ll roads leading into Wisconsin. Which no one would have tolerated but may not have been a bad strategy for the upper peninsula starting in January.

Duh
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 4:13pm

What about it? New Zealand did not do what this nutjob wants to do.

mw
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 9:15am

Universal Healthcare

Just asking
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 9:04am

Curious why conservatives have abandoned the right to life mantra? Does the sanctity of life not apply to folks being exposed to Covid-19?

Oakland County Mom
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 4:15pm

Yes, because the GOP is not about protecting life. It's about controlling women and marginalizing all people.

Correct
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 9:05am

Opening up everything is exactly what we should do immediately. Individuals who are at a high risk should self isolate if they feel the need. The virus has a .2% mortality rate and we are doing irreparable harm to the living by keeping locked down.

Been there, don...
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 4:16pm

Benjamin said adopting a strategy that relies on herd immunity would leave millions dead from both the virus and an overloaded health system. Such a plan, he added, “would be malpractice [and] immoral.”

Anne
Fri, 10/16/2020 - 8:42pm

Sounds like you believe in discrimination and forcing vulnerable people to stay inside while you go about your life and do as you please. You must support Thump

Susie
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 9:25am

I couldn't understand how this was such a political slanted article until the end when I read Jonathan Oosting contributed to it. It all makes sense now. He is the reason The Bridge can not say they are bipartisan, and I will not donate until they truly are!

Lawrence Hawkins, MD
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 9:28am

I think it is irresponsible of this article to quote Dr. Atlas as if he is an authority. He is a neuroradiologist and has zero background in infectious disease or even general medicine. He also has not been in active medical practice for years. He is a charlatan
and does not deserve to be quoted anywhere.

Lowell Rinker
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 9:50am

Shirkey is an idiot. Herd immunity can work well with immunization applications. The problem with his approach is that he wants to allow mass infections of a virus with a high mortality rate. We have over 215,000 deaths currently....projected to well over 400,000. And that terrible record is due mainly to not socially distancing and not wearing masks. His method would kill many more Americans and is why people like him should be purged from elective office. It's not too late to listen to people like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Matt
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 10:01am

This is like posting a story about the "controversy" of climate change or evolution. There is no controversy except among politically motivated people.

Trump himself said there's a vaccine on the way. Actually, he said it would already be available so he's not exactly a reliable source, but there are quite a few promising vaccines already being mass tested by volunteers. Why would we unleash massive harm on the population when all signs point to a vaccine being available next year? It's unethical to do so, as was pointed out by several experts in the article.

The economy in MI is almost completely open at this point, just with mask wearing and social distancing. Schools are another story, but that's all local decisions within the state guidelines at this point.

Also, if all restrictions, guidelines, and mandates were to be lifted at this point, we wouldn't achieve herd immunity anyway, because tons of people would stay at home anyway to avoid getting sick and potential long term disability. Herd immunity through "letting it run its course" is impossible.

middle of the mit
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:34am

Trump himself said there's a vaccine on the way. Actually, he said it would already be available so he's not exactly a reliable source, but there are quite a few promising vaccines already being mass tested by volunteers.
___________________________________________________

https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/09/28/inovio-coronavirus-vaccine-can...

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-13/j-j-confirms-covid-19...

https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/15/health/covid-19-vaccine-trial-astrazeneca...

You need to keep up with the news.

Marco Menezes
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 10:03am

As noted, there’s no certainty that long- lasting immunity comes from having had this disease. Even if there were, a “herd immunity” strategy amounts to genocide of the elderly and infirm, many more of whose lives would be sacrificed. Other countries have successfully squelched COVID-19. All it takes is discipline and willingness to endure minor personal inconvenience for the greater good.

Matt
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 7:38pm

If this is true then there would be no way for the vaccine to provide any more than fleeting immunity (like the flu) either. (My sources in the testing industry say this is in fact very likely!) Then what? Stay closed?

Hallinen
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 10:19am

Ognjan is wrong. Trump’s failure at pandemic management has made giving up seem easier, it isn’t. Too many young survivors will suffer lifelong organ damage. If we had leaders like Canada, we could have avoided excessive mortality and our coming dark winter. It isn’t too late. The mantra mask, distance, ventilation and hand wash is far cheaper than Ognjan‘a absurd herd immunity plan. His plan will result in crashing hospitals, economic devastation and despair. I visited the Ebola graveyards in Sierra Leone. If we follow the immoral Republican plan, we better tune up our backhoes now, they will be needed in January for digging the mass graves.

Pray for Ethics
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 4:47pm

I'm afraid it IS too late with the GOP in control of our state supreme court and legislature. What can our duly elected governor do?

Creek of Trout
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:05am

Herd Immunity? Let's do some math. Using the number referenced above, we would have
6.5 million infections. The current case fatality rate is currently at 2.8%, we have 8 million confirmed cases and 220,000 deaths using this data https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ .
Let's just use a 2% case fatality rate on 6.5 million - that's 130,000 MI deaths.
More likely is a 1 % case fatality rate ( 5 X the plain flu death rate ) - that's 65,000 MI deaths.
Now consider that at least 25 to 33% of Covid survivors will have long term health consequences, damaged hearts, lungs, digestive system and brains. Plus 6.5 million citizens now will have a pre-existing condition - Covid. It didn't have to be like this, there are many nations around the world who have extremely low death rates and are returning to a normal economy and social life.

Creek of Trout
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:14am

Are other countries doing better than the USA?
Deaths per 1 million of population:
USA - 664
Ireland - 369
Canada - 255
Switzerland - 242
World Average - 140
Germany - 116
South Korea - 8

mw
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 9:17am

(not so) Fun fact: South Korea had their first confirmed case the same day as the United States.

Don
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:15am

and they get the best medical care that OUR money can buy<<< they do not care about us>>>
Remember they said get and not insurance then just die quickly!!!

Don
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:19am

well trump is doing a good job of spreading the virus to his voters>>> soon to be dead ones!!!

middle of the mit
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:44am

Thank you Mr Shirkey for finally admitting what the GOP plans for the pandemic are! There are none.

With E.O's out, will schools voluntarily report info on Covid, or are they only reporting now because they have been ordered to do so? How will the GOP keep the seniors in the nursing homes safe............when they tell us they are willing to take on the risks when the GOP makes the rules?

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/scientists-confirm-covid-reinfection-...

According to a new study published the Lancet on Monday, a 25-year-old man in Nevada tested positive for COVID-19 on April 18, recovered, then tested positive again on June 5.

Additionally, the researchers noted that the second case was “symptomatically more severe” than the first.

https://www.freep.com/story/money/business/2020/10/12/some-michigan-fitn...

Now, fitness chain owners say that because Whitmer's emergency orders have been struck down, they can make these changes, even though the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an order that requires gym-goers to wear a mask while exercising indoors.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/mcconnell-laughs-when-called-out-for-...

https://t.co/zJTIZYeFxb

Good luck MI!

Remember in November!

justsharp
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 12:10pm

I want the GOP, the doctor & all their family members to lead the herd immunity. I'll be in the back at least 6 feet from everyone wearing my mask.

zooman
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 1:18pm

This is a completely ridiculous idea. Moreover, we are only beginning the long-term health impacts of this virus, particularly in young people and mature adults. Also worth remembering is that this virus can morph and become more lethal.

Hopeful
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 1:27pm

This is the first comment section I've read in months that gave me hope vs making me feel physically ill. May rational minds & caring hearts lead the way in these uncertain and scary times.

chief54
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 1:50pm

I thought Shirkey was a fool but with the help of this Dr we are in real trouble. I love the comments that us old folks just should accept the fact we're going to die anyway so why not go out in the most painful way possible, covid-19. I have survived two bouts of cancer in my 83 years and am still surviving rather well with my mask and distancing and I don't intend to change my current practices.

These comments by Shirkey and this alleged Dr simply show what we are facing with these idiots now in control.

Since I'm not allowed to say what I really think about these idiots, including the President on this site all I can say is VOTE!

George Hagenauer
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 1:59pm

Is Shirkey willing to cover lifetime medical and disability costs for those that survive the virus? a 2.8% death rate (which would probably rise as you end restrictions) is a known one time impact. The long term cost for impaired survivors could be billions given what we are seeing develop among groups of younger survivors. Most of those effects have not be studied nor are totally understood at this time but include people who have ended up on dialysis because the virus spreads outside of the more visible impacts on the respiratory system.

Vince Caruso
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 3:05pm

Sweden tried this with very poor results. Unfortunately, a live trial that killed lots of folks 60 and over. They had a death rate in Sweden of more than 22 deaths per 100,000 people, a number significantly higher than its neighbors and the US!

We don't need to do it here, we know it is a total failure unbecoming a civilized community.
This person has not a clue!

Scary!
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 4:27pm

Looks like Dr. Anthony Ognjan works at Henry Ford Hospital too, another hospital to avoid.

Ernie
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 4:37pm

Obviously none of these folks work on the hospital front line (patient bedside) where an increase in cases would be critical.

Pro Life
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 12:41am

Imagine working in an overwhelmed hospital ICU and having to decide which patients to save, like they had to do in Italy. That will be very common across our country this winter as the number of cases continue to increase more into the vulnerable populations.

GOP Goals
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 5:04pm

Just be glad you lived to 60 years old, if you did. Medicare and Social Security are too expensive. Oh, but if you are older than 60, vote for Republicans, we NEED you to reach our goals!

Reader
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 5:34pm

Given this person's business interests and conflicts I would not trust this person for anything. https://midcusa.com/

Valerie
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 5:53pm

The headline is misleading. The statement wasn't made by Michigan GOP.

You own it!
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 12:45am

It isn't misleading at all if you read the article. Shirkey is Republican and leads the senate in opposition to the governor:

Ognjan’s view — dismissed as unethical and deadly by many in the medical establishment — appears to align with that of a top state Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey of Clarklake. Shirkey has pushed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for months to robustly open Michigan’s economy, arguing that it’s fantasy to believe COVID-19 can be contained by state mandates.

The state, Shirkey argues, should allow the coronavirus to spread in the hopes of achieving “herd immunity.”

kathy Mayo
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 7:00pm

No Way!! We will not stop this pandemic by opening things up. That is Just absurd stupidity! How hard is it to wear masks & distance?? Apparently it's too hard for Republicans! They are responsible for the high numbers of Covid illness & deaths in the US.. Vote the Death Panel GOP out of office

.

kathy Mayo
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 7:00pm

No Way!! We will not stop this pandemic by opening things up. That is Just absurd stupidity! How hard is it to wear masks & distance?? Apparently it's too hard for Republicans! They are responsible for the high numbers of Covid illness & deaths in the US.. Vote the Death Panel GOP out of office

.

Mark Anderson
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 8:22pm

The pubs always like killing people, it's in their nature.

Carole
Fri, 10/16/2020 - 5:07pm

Obviously you don't consider babies in the womb to be people.

Mike
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 8:25pm

"And in the United States, the death rate remains relatively low — about 2.8 percent, or roughly 66 people per every 100,000 infected, according to Johns Hopkins University. "

At first I thought this was a math error, but I looked at the Johns Hopkins data, and it's just been misquoted. The study says that the U.S. has a 2.8% case fatality and about 66 deaths per 100,000 population, not per 100,000 infected. 2.8% case fatality means the disease kills 2,800 people per 100,000 infected. That 66 looks like a nice low number, but it's only true because good public health measures have prevented from most people from being infected, yet.

It's been estimated that 70% of the population would need to contract COVID for there to be herd immunity. That would mean 1,960 deaths per 100,000 population at the fatality rate shown in the study. The U.S. has a population of about 330 million, so herd immunity would require about 6,468,000 deaths in the United States.

If you believe the Wikipedia article "United States military casualties of war" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war), about 1,355,000 U.S. military members have died in wars throughout history. Ognjan's "plan" would kill 4.7 times as many Americans as have died in every U.S. military conflict combined dating back to the Revolutionary War.

To put it bluntly, this Ognjan character is a quack, and I'm not sure I have the right word to describe Shirkey. The article's statement about the Johns Hopkins study is either a simple oversight or an underhanded attempt to mislead readers to the conclusion that Ognjan's proposal is sensible and benign. It's not benign, and a deeper analysis of the statistics make that clear.

Bek
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 9:51pm

Shirkey and his ilk should think twice about pissing off old folks he would sacrifice through herd immunity- a “life sentence “has less meaning to those above 70.

Kc
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:41pm

I don't have to live by someone else s recklessness.. especially by leaders. everyone should know that the scientist's of many kinds as well as doctors of many kinds can't live like that.... so whats the real reasons..

Kc
Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:46pm

We should report .. genocide against us.. well those who care.. can't speak for the reckless.

Tom B
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 7:40am

Ther statement about the 2.8% case fatality rate and "66 people out of 100,000" infected dying. The source provided says that there are 66 deaths per 100,000 population, not infected.

Tom B
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 7:40am

Ther statement about the 2.8% case fatality rate and "66 people out of 100,000" infected dying. The source provided says that there are 66 deaths per 100,000 population, not infected.

Carole
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 2:56pm

The best way to stop the virus is to quarantine and keep safe the vulnerable (do not send those who have the virus to nursing homes) It is not a good idea to send vulnerable people who are recovering from an injury or surgery to a nursing home. Those who are not vulnerable should be able to make their own decision of whether they want to be part of herd exposure or not. There are most likely many people who are not vulnerable that have already had the virus and did not know it because their symptoms were so mild.

Mark salawage
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 4:24pm

This whole idea of "slow the spread" do you people even think about what you say.that still means it is spreading just slower which means prolonging absurd ideas that you can control a virus.mask do nothing but are idological signals.open up Michigan sweden has it correct

Gretchen Klatt
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 4:36pm

I am in total agreement..the harm caused by fear of this virus is worse than the small deaths per million. I am so over this and so sick of seeing people walking outside or riding in their cars masked up....herd immunity is the only sane target prior to a vaccine..imho :)

Barb ZB
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 5:25pm

Michigan’s Majority Leader in the Senate, Mike Shirkey, advocates herd immunity to deal with Covid19. How ridiculous an idea from a leader of our state representing the best interests of Michiganders!

The callousness of allowing this disease to “run its course” with citizens going about their daily lives with no need for protection or caution is irresponsible and dangerous. Shirkey, the Majority Leader of Michigan’s Senate, advocates using no face masks or social distancing either. We need to get on with our lives they seem to be saying. Mr Shirkey expects us to work toward this goal. Lets all get sick and face the consequences.

To achieve herd immunity, experts tell us 70%-80% of the population would need to be sickened by Coronavirus-19. There is an estimated 330 million people in the US as of 2020. If 80% of U.S. citizens need to contract Covid, that means 264 million people in the U.S would get this virus.

The percentage of people who have died so far - 2.7% percent of the total number of people who got sick. That doesn’t sound too bad. Less then 3%. But lets round out those numbers. Remember 264 million people would get the disease, AND 7million and 800 thousand people would die IF WE ALLOW OUR LEADERS TO NUDGE US TOWARD ACCEPTING HERD IMMUNITY!

THAT RAISES THE QUESTION — where is the average citizen in the pecking order of who dies and who doesn’t? Certainly, if you’re the President or the Majority Leader in any state, you would expect to get preferential care and treatment. (Remember Trump received compassionate dose of experimental drugs because he is President) . I’m not saying a leader shouldn’t get excellent medical treatment, BUT WE NEED TO REMEMBER THAT PRIVILEGE BEFORE ACCEPTING WHAT OUR INTREPID LEADERS ADVISE. How easy it is easy for a someone who is liable to receive preferential and advanced treatment to say “we” should ignore this terrible diseaseI and get on with our lives.

Our elected leaders are willing to risk our lives to achieve herd immunity. I’m not willing to give up my life, allow my husband to die, or my sister, or a grandchild to achieve herd immunity so our Leaders can talk up an economy that isn’t threatened by our health measures.

Yes, I agree with Creek of Trout. Do the math.

Paul Ekholm
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 7:19pm

Herd immunity or herd insanity?

Mary
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 8:20pm

Dr. Ognjan I can not believe you actually condone this, not only is it unethical and irresponsible but it’s against all scientific data. One only has to look at Sweden to see how well that worked for them. This has politics written all over this. If this is the mentality at McClaren no thank you.

Adam LaFerriere
Wed, 10/14/2020 - 8:23pm

This is a comment by Dr. Ogjnan from a podcast that was recorded back on February:
"The bottom line is, when you look at what we’re dealing with,” Dr. Ognjan said, “this virus does probably have a similar death rate of regular influenza, which is basically much more common on the planet in a seasonal basis.”
So I don't assign him much credibility on the issue.

Meredith
Thu, 10/15/2020 - 11:58am

You buried the lede, which is: "...it remains unknown whether exposure to COVID-19 and the resulting antibodies provide long-term relief." Also, this is factually incorrect. People have gotten it more than once. Therefore, it clearly does NOT provide immunity. Not only that, this article suffers from a severe case of both sides-ism. You are presenting the Great Barrington Declaration as if it contains any valid points, rather than what it actually is: political pandering based on greed. The "doctors" who are claiming there is such a thing as herd immunity should be stripped of their licenses. There is no such thing with coronavirus. Shame on them, shame on you, Mr. Oosting, and shame on BridgeMI.

Just me
Thu, 10/15/2020 - 1:22pm

You are only publishing the comments of those who disagree.. I will try once more to get you to post my fervent agreement with opening up ..I am not GOP, but tired of stalled economy...move on, the numbers dying do not justify the crippling of society.

mw
Fri, 10/16/2020 - 8:53am

Do you really think everyone is going to flock to bars and movie theaters if all restrictions are loosened? The lockdown didn't stall the economy, the virus did. Even places like South Dakota that never shut down have seen a massive increase in the number of people seeking unemployment benefits and an an increase in the number of businesses that are permanently closing. If you want to rebound the economy then we need to identify and control the number of infections as well as make people feel safe to shop in stores or eat at restaurants.

Sharyn Radke
Thu, 10/15/2020 - 2:04pm

What does Shirkey mean LIVE with it? How about die with it? We have no vaccine, and only rich people or people living off of our tax dollars like trump and his buddies can get the treatments that might help it from the story trump is telling. Trump probably would have been dead or very, very sick if he hadn't had special treatment. People don't want to die and they don't want their friends relatives, children to die or have health problems for the rest of their lives. And now they are saying immunity may only last up to 4 months. So do we just keep getting it over and over again until it does kill us? That is just stupid. Shirkey is a trumper, he is a traitor to his constituents many of whom will die due to his loyalty to trump who knows NOTHING about science or communicable diseases.

Todd Priest
Thu, 10/15/2020 - 7:21pm

Funny how liberals only follow some science. Lol! It's been proven over and over that lock downs are worse than the virus itself. I'm sure after the election the liberals will stop trying to jam up the economy. This isn't about our safety but more about a massive power grab.

Cee Cie
Fri, 10/16/2020 - 7:28pm

Do these people do ANY research what-so-ever. Sweden tried herd immunity last Spring.
Most people do not understand what herd immunity entails. The group I am most doubtful of understanding herd immunity is politicians.
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/370/6513/159
09 Oct 2020
From the article: Herd immunity is still not well understood, but scientists estimate that in the case of COVID-19, between 40% and 70% of a population would have to be immune to arrest the spread of the virus. Many scientists say reaching that percentage without the help of a vaccine would cause far too many deaths and long-term side effects.

sam
Fri, 10/16/2020 - 9:32pm

17 days my fellow Americans.
In 17 short days America can start healing from the worst catastrophe to ever hit America, the scourge of trump.
If we all vote for Joe we will have a president who will put out away this "herd immunity" garbage philosophy that conservatives are trying to push on us.
A philosophy that will kill off any weak, compromised, and old American citizens that cannot protect themselves because of weakened immune systems.
Stop trump and you will also be stopping the coronavirus.