Who thinks herd immunity is a good idea?

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
September 15, 2020, 2:09 PM UTC

One in five Americans think herd immunity is good government policy to address COVID-19. 

That’s according to a recent YouGov poll, which followed reports that Scott Atlas, a recently added member of the White House pandemic task force, had been advocating for the administration to embrace natural herd immunity as a public-health strategy. Atlas strongly denied these reports, and Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert said, “That’s not a fundamental strategy that we’re using.” 

Herd immunity is a situation in which a large enough proportion of the population is immune either from vaccine or from prior illness, which makes person-to-person spread unlikely. 

While 22 percent approve of such a policy, 26 percent think it’s bad policy, 19 percent don’t know, and 22 percent haven’t read or heard anything about the controversial public health tactic to fight COVID-19.  

Younger Americans, including Gen Z (27%) and Millennials (24%), are more likely to think it’s a good governmental policy to allow the virus to spread widely in society, compared to Gen Xers (22%) and Baby Boomers (21%). 

According to YouGov Profiles data, Americans who say they are not worried about becoming seriously unwell or dying as a result of COVID-19 are more likely to think it’s good policy (27%), compared to those who are worried (18%). 

Americans who think the COVID-19 situation in the US is getting better (32%) – or completely over (38%) – are also more likely to say herd immunity is a good idea, compared to those who think the situation is getting worse (15%). 

Further, those who trust the government think it’s a good idea. Three-quarters of (76%) of Americans who somewhat or completely trust what the government says about COVID-19 say herd immunity is good policy, compared to those who harbor distrust in government. 

Methodology: The survey questions, “Based on what you have read or heard about herd immunity, do you think it would be a good or bad governmental policy to manage the COVID-19 pandemic?” was asked of 10,920 US adults ages 18 and over. Interviews were conducted online September 3 – 10, 2020. Results are weighted to be nationally representative.    

Image: Getty