The author is a scientific critic
Respiratory syncytial virus, like the flu, is a little-known and elusive seasonal scourge that most severely affects children and the elderly. It can cause severe respiratory distress in a small number of infants.
RSV is so common that over 80% of children in the UK are infected by their second birthday, but cases have plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic. Measures such as masking and school and nursery school closures aimed at slowing the spread of Covid will also put the brakes on infection rates. The virus is now making a comeback, especially in the United States, and the wave is hitting sooner than expected.
This has fueled speculation that the easing of the pandemic, including lockdowns, has created a harmful “immune debt”, leaving children vulnerable because they are not exposed to the normal cuts and thrusts of viral infections. However, scientists dismiss this concept as being misguided as it applies to individual immunity.
The swirling debate over debt forgiveness shows how a theory that sounds plausible can easily be misinformed. In this case, misinformation not only risks fueling unsubstantiated claims that infectious diseases are clinically beneficial to children, but revisionists say that Covid measures have done more harm than good. at the risk of furthering the story of
Professor Peter Openshaw, a respiratory physician and immunologist who studies RSV and influenza at Imperial College London, said that the current “high and out-of-season” RSV wave is a lock that lowers immune levels in children, parents and caregivers. It states that it is believed to be the result of down. It paves the way for more infections.
But to frame this as an immunity debt, Openshaw cautioned, “Immunity is something we need to invest in, and by protecting ourselves from infection, we end up creating a deficit that we will have to pay back.” This is not a good message for public health: if this idea follows its logical conclusion, we will still have open sewers and be contaminated with cholera. Slowing the transmission of RSV could actually be beneficial, he added. attributed to RSV.
Deborah Dan Walters, professor of immunology at the University of Surrey, makes a distinction between individual and herd immunity (herd immunity) as it examines how pandemic responses have changed the spread of non-Covid diseases. A smaller pool of people infected during the pandemic could lead to a larger pool of susceptible people after the lifting of measures. The simple reason that more people are infected may fuel the surge (other factors such as weather and virus severity can also affect transmission).
However, there is no evidence that avoiding previous infections worsens an individual’s condition. “Immune debt as an individual concept is not recognized in immunology,” she says Dunn-Walters. “The immune system is not seen as a muscle that must be used all the time to keep you in shape, rather the opposite.” The constant onslaught of common pathogens such as cytomegalovirus She adds that it means the immune system starts to malfunction and start to wane with age. It is said to be a safe method.
Virologist Stephen Griffin of the University of Leeds believes that pediatric pandemic vaccines are underutilized, but argues that childhood respiratory illness is still complacent. No, but Griffin admits: can We vaccinate against both flu and Covid, and yet we don’t. “Changing that norm could help neutralize the worst effects of the ‘triple epidemic’ projected this winter,” he says. The child is recommended to get his flu vaccine.
The indemnity debt theory has broad appeal because it can be used in so many ways. It seems to intuitively describe the current wave of respiratory disease. It is attractive to those who downplay child illness, or who advocate infection rather than vaccination. Despite evidence suggesting it suppressed and virtually banished the flu.
Immune debt also influences the idea that the decline of childhood illness is best left to nature.