Jul 17, 2020 06:04 PM

Top Chinese Epidemiologist Says Herd Immunity Is ‘Overly Costly’ for the U.S.


What’s new: Zhang Wenhong, a top epidemiologist and head of the infectious disease department at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai said at an online event this week that the herd immunity strategy is an “overly costly, inadvisable” approach for the United States to use to fight Covid-19.

Zhang said it would take more than 3 years for the U.S. to reach the threshold for effective herd immunity, which requires more than 60% of the U.S. population, nearly 200 million people, to be infected. “Even if the U.S.’s daily caseload tops 100,000 now, it would be 40 million total in a year and 120 million in three years.” The U.S. has a current daily infection number of roughly 50,000 new cases.

The only way the U.S. could achieve herd immunity would be through vaccines, Zhang said. Previously, he said in April that about six million people would die if the U.S. adopted the herd immunity approach.

The background: The U.S. is facing a new wave of Covid-19 infections as the White House disagrees with its top health advisers on disease control measures. As of Friday, the new coronavirus has infected more than 3.5 million people in the U.S. with more than 138,000 deaths.

U.S. President Donald Trump insisted that the disease would “disappear” and ordered a resumption of social activities including reopening of schools. But Anthony Fauci, the country’s top epidemiologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, harshly criticized the federal government’s “nonsense” response Wednesday.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Lu Zhenhua ( and editor Marcus Ryder (

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