A Tory health minister partially responsible for the government’s response to the coronavirus epidemic has falsely claimed “there is no such thing as herd immunity”.
Nadine Dorries also said evidence for her statement lies in the fact that “measles and chicken pox” have not been wiped out.
Both statements are false.
Herd immunity does not require the absolute eradication of a disease but occurs when a large enough percentage of a population becomes immune so that it doesn’t spread exponentially.
For instance, if 80% of a population have immunity to a virus, four out of every five people who come into contact with someone with the virus will not get sick and further spread the disease.
Herd immunity is achieved either through vaccination or exposing enough of a population to the virus in question. It is supported by decades of scientific research.
Secondly, new cases of measles and chicken pox still occur because people are not born with immunity to them, thus the disease is impossible to eradicate entirely but prevalence diminishes gradually over time.
Dorries was roundly slammed on social media with many expressing disbelief that a health minister could get something so wrong.
Dorries is also a former nurse and tested positive for coronavirus in March.
The Department for Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.