Prolonged lockdown could lead to weakening of our immunity, warns an Oxford epidemiologist!

Prolonged lockdown could lead to weakening of our immunity, warns an Oxford epidemiologist!
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is bad. But lockdown to curtail the spread of the deadly virus could end up giving more problems, especially in the long run.
  • It not only causes economic hardships but also has a hidden negative impact on the immunity of humans, warns an Oxford epidemiologist.

The epidemiologist is not in favor of prolonged lockdown.

Prolonged lockdown and its impact on immunity

A prolonged lockdown was proposed and imposed by governments worldwide in order to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus in the community. It did help to curtail the transmission but it also came with a cost.

The migrant workers, lower class, and businesses have suffered and would take a long time to recover. The lockdown in many places has been Draconian and prolonged.

In some places, after an initial easing, re-lockdown has been put in place as the cases of coronavirus surged.

Prolonged lockdown [Source: CNBC]
And if this phase of lockdown and social distancing is allowed to continue for a longer period of time, it could have a negative effect on the body’s immunity, warns an Oxford epidemiologist.

The social distancing could lead to the weakening of the immunity of human beings. This would further cause people to be unable to fight any new virus which comes up in the future. Therefore, it would create circumstances of more pandemics and more deaths due to it, warns Sunetra Gupta.

Also, read Lockdown for COVID-19 pandemic!!! Was the treatment of the pandemic more worse than the disease itself?

The rationale behind the warning

Sunetra Gupta is a professor of theoretical epidemiology at the University of Oxford. She fears that the intense social distancing might seem to help in the near future but it could weaken the body’s immunity.

This would prove harmful in the long run, she says. She justifies that when people are practicing strict and prolonged social distancing, they will not catch the milder germs.

Hence their immunity will not develop resistance against them. The net result would be the inability to fight against future pandemics and therefore more potential deaths.

Prolonged lockdown [Source: Twitter]
Social mixing makes an individual exposed to new germs. The person’s body starts manufacturing protective antibodies to this new germ antigen. This is the process of developing the body’s immunity and aids the person to fight any further organisms.

More about the ill-effect of social distancing

Now the governments have limited social mixing for the past so many months. Hence the process of immunity development in the people of the world would be less. And that would make them vulnerable to more germ attacks in the future.

In March, Sunetra created the best scenario model. This, after the virus entered the UK in December, could lead to herd immunity and resistance in the population.

Prolonged social distancing is not good [Source: FT]
Professor Neil Ferguson from the Imperial College of London created the worst scenario. It said that coronavirus would kill 500k people in the UK. This model made the UK government impose the lockdown immediately.

Though all these are theories and hypotheses, time will tell us who was right and who was wrong?