David Robertson in Stat News:
Herd immunity was always our greatest asset for protecting vulnerable people, but public health failed to use it wisely.
In March 2020, not long after Covid-19 was declared a global public health emergency, prominent experts predicted that the pandemic would eventually end via herd immunity. Infectious disease epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who advised President Biden, opined in the Washington Post that even without a vaccine, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, would eventually “burn itself out as the spread of infection comes to confer a form of herd immunity.” The best strategy, he reasoned, was to “gradually build up immunity” by letting “those at low risk for serious disease continue to work” while higher-risk people sheltered and scientists developed treatments and, hopefully, vaccines.
Experts in the United Kingdom also spoke early on of herd immunity acquired through infection as a protective force that would ultimately end the epidemic.