How the Amish achieved herd immunity without lockdowns, masks or vaccines

In March 2021, a Pennsylvania newspaper reported that the Amish had achieved herd immunity against Sars-CoV-2 without taking any of the extreme measures common around the world. There were no lockdowns, no church closings, no school closing, and no mask wearing. And almost no vaccinations.

In short, the Amish achieved herd immunity the old-fashioned way, by everybody being exposed to the virus and then developing natural immunity. It turns out that the Amish take the Sacrament with everybody drinking from the same cup, so almost all of the Amish got COVID when the pandemic began.

Exact numbers are difficult to come by in the Amish world, but there is no evidence of a massive number of deaths of Amish in Lancaster County in the last 18 months. Of course the number of cases was very high, but measuring by cases has always been problematic because what really matters is how many people get hospitalized or die from a disease. And there is simply no evidence of that among the Amish.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 1258 reported deaths from COVID in Lancaster County, PA, out of a total population of 550,000. This is about the same as the U.S. death rate of about 734,000 deaths out of a population of 331 million. So, I want to repeat this point: The county that the Amish live in had about the same death rate while relying on natural immunity than the rest of the U.S. did relying on masks, lockdowns, school closures and vaccines.

Now, let’s imagine that the Amish policy had resulted in a massacre of the Amish, which is what the COVID hysterics believe would have happened without all of the lockdowns and mandates. Don’t you think we would be seeing daily news stories from Amish country telling us: this is what happens when you don’t “follow the science?” Instead, we have gotten almost no news reports from Amish country, because the truth is that the Amish approach appears to work.

What about the variants, you say? It turns out that natural immunity actually works better than the vaccines at preventing people from getting the variants, which is why highly vaccinated locations went through a massive spike caused by the delta variant. The numbers from Lancaster county show an increase in cases, but deaths are relatively low.

If you want to know why so many of us have opposed the lockdowns, the masks and the mandates, it is because we have long known that these measures *do not make a difference.* It is not that we are callous about the lives lost to COVID — we are concerned about the number of lives lost and disrupted by measures that will not work. And the experience of the Amish shows we were correct.

There is an excellent five-minute video discussing COVID and the Amish. Click here for the video version.

Here is the transcript of that video.

Here is a story indicating that more than 29 recent studies show that natural immunity is at least as good and in some cases superior to the COVID vaccines.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

12 thoughts on “How the Amish achieved herd immunity without lockdowns, masks or vaccines

  1. It has to be similar to the influenza virus. I had (diagnosed by a doctor) influenza type b in January 2008. I felt like I’d been hit by a semi and more or less slept for seven days. My family woke me up to get me to eat or drink, but I wasn’t interested, I just slept. In January 2009 I had it again, but milder and only in bed for three days. Since then I’ve never been sick with anything like the flu. I figure I have enough natural immunity that I don’t need any flu shots. Now that I’ve had covid I feel the same way. I may get a variant, but it will be milder and then I probably won’t get anything again. Heavenly Father designed our bodies to do that very thing.
    I believe in vaccines for polio, DPT, MMR, and such, because those vaccines actually work to prevent the diseases. Whatever the covid “vaccine” is, it doesn’t prevent the disease. My husband was “vaccinated” and his case was worse than mine!
    I’ve studied about the Amish for years and while I wouldn’t want to live entirely their way, they are way ahead of us in many ways.

  2. Funny, one year I got SO sick from the flu (probably 2004), I swore I would never go without the flu shot after that. I thought it was the “smart” thing to do. Rozy, your comment makes me feel a lot less “smart”!

  3. I’ve thought a lot about this. When covid first hit and some uninspiring members remarked how they’d feel uncomfortable taking the sacrament, it caused reflection.

    When Jesus passed a cup around and invited them all to partake, was he ignorant of germ theory. Is there not something literal about his disciples bearing one another’s burdens as they share an ordinance that remembers how he bore all of ours?

    I think the mask and distance doesn’t show love, but fear. A perfect love casts out fear. In bearing and sharing viral burdens, immune systems would ultimately be stronger.

  4. I remember telling my friends and family on Facebook that I thought we really ought to be treating COVID like Chicken Pox and we should have a COVID party, contract the disease, and have it over with! Of course, if you’re high risk, then you might not want to do that, but for the rest of us? Just get it over with! Based on the info in this article, looks like I was right!

  5. Aaron, yes. We didn’t know how bad COVID was at first. Remember that the first projections were that it would kill millions in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide in the first year. But we knew by April 2020 that it was very deadly for older people and people with obesity and diabetes and not as dangerous for younger people. So, the policy should have been to protect the most vulnerable and allow the rest of society to go about its business. This is what I suggested in April 2020, and in fact this is what the Great Barrington Declaration recommended. Sweden and Nicaragua adopted this policy, and overall Sweden and Nicaragua have had some of the best results. What an incredible waste of resources — and lives — adopting a policy that will never work and that has restricted the freedom of billions of people worldwide. Think of all of the children forced to unnecessarily wear soggy masks or who have missed more than a year of school. This overreaction to COVID will affect people worldwide for years if not decades to come.


    The lack of “media reports” on Amish deaths is more likely a function of the difficulty of obtaining the data, rather than a lack of actual COVID deaths. As, apparently, there were quite a few.

    I’ve found that about 99% of the online “COVID conversations” are simply aimed at conversing with the already converted. Meaning people just generally find a group they agree with and post supporting responses to each other. I’ve found that in essentially every conversation I’ve participating in or witnessed that exactly zero people weigh information and even consider altering any aspects of their conclusions. So for the most part I’ve “given up” the expectation of engaging in conversations were anyone actually is interested in developing evidence, but I occasionally offer some up just in case.

    What I find very interesting (and primarily why I responded to this post at all) is that in the many posts on this and related subjects here, is that the folks who are in the camp of opposing all governmental actions designed to slow the spread tend to lump all possible measures together; while those who support some or many of the governmental actions tend to view vaccines as a way to *avoid* the need for many of the other measures. Very different world views. That difference in world views (which in the case of LDS members with differing opinions on the matter) I suspect simply derives from the different relative weights we all put on various foundational Gospel principles. I suspect the differing weights trace back to very same reasons we tend to separate into different political camps, our views of: the nature of humankind, responsibility for the well being of others, individual versus family versus community versus society responsibilities, etc. I like to read the content on this site (and occasionally respond) as it gives me insight into how some of my fellow saints view the world; but I have no real expectation of having any real influence on their actual thought processes. COVID has brought this reality into stark relief, but the underlying cause of the divergent world views is of a long standing and fundamental nature.

  7. JSH, interesting study. For those who do not want to wade through JSH’s article, it basically says the following: 1)getting exact numbers among the Anabaptist groups is difficult. 2)one way to look at possible effects of COVID on these communities is to look at obituaries in community newspapers. 3)when you look at these obituaries, there is some evidence of a small increase in deaths during the COVID timeframes. 4)There is zero evidence of a massive increase in deaths.

    JSH is also correct that people tend to look at these issues through their ideological lenses. So, for pro-liberty people like myself, the key points are that 1)I would expect excess deaths from COVID, and in fact that was one of the points of my OP and 2)to justify all of the mandates and lockdowns, you would have to see a complete massacre of the unprotected Anabaptist populations, which did not take place.

    I want to make this point because apparently even relatively smart people like JSH don’t understand it: we have gone through pandemics before. Up until now, we have had a clear way of responding to pandemics, which is to protect the vulnerable and to let everybody else continue their lives in the hopes we would achieve herd immunity. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is the first one in history where we have responded with worldwide lockdowns, mask mandates, school closures, work closures and vaccine mandates. (To be clear, there have been cases in the past of mandates on a local level, but this is the first time we have ever seen this response on a nearly worldwide basis). Therefore, the burden of proof is on the people who support the mandates and lockdowns to show that without these mandates and lockdowns we would have had a massive societal collapse with tens or even hundreds of millions of deaths. When you look at the actual evidence, there is no evidence of this, ie, there is no evidence that without the mandates and lockdowns we would have had a significantly worse result.

    In the case of the Amish, the available evidence seems to be a small increase in deaths, which is what happened in most locations in the United States. So, the Amish were correct in treating this pandemic like they have treated all past pandemics.

    As for JSH’s point that it is difficult to persuade people to other viewpoints, yes, that is definitely the case. But in my personal case, a few dozen people have come to me in the last few months to admit that I was correct from the beginning regarding the pandemic. And many others who shared my viewpoints have told me they appreciate my vigilance and journalistic integrity on this issue. So, I would say that it is possible to persuade a few people, but it is also possible to provide support to the many people who feel under siege by censorship and false reporting during these very strange and difficult times.

  8. And I must make this point re: JSH’s comment. He says:

    “I’ve found that in essentially every conversation I’ve participating in or witnessed that exactly zero people weigh information and even consider altering any aspects of their conclusions.”

    JSH, this is way up there on the irony scale, because you sent me a link that supports what I said in the OP, ie, there is no evidence of a massacre of Amish people. Yet you somehow seemed to think this was new information that would somehow change my mind, or perhaps show that I was closed-minded in the first place. What it did instead was show that my original conclusion was correct. Did you even read the paper you sent me before sending it to me?

  9. I find it amazing how quickly people have forgotten why we had lockdowns at the beginning. We had insufficient PPE and ventilators and hospital space. We were killing our medical workers and not saving those who might be saved if we flattened the upward curve of the infection rate. And we were buying ourselves time to learn more about treatments. Both worked through lockdowns and vaccines. Yes, the cost was high. But I for one would have quit my job, considered essential, if people had not masked up, just as many childcare workers are quitting today because they feel unsafe.

  10. Terry, I have not forgotten. The problem is that the hospital crisis simply never happened. There was always enough hospital space, even in New York, which was hit the worst. You can read about it here:

    In terms of the use of ventilators, that was always the wrong treatment, as is documented here:

    I don’t think anybody including me would care as much about the lockdowns if they had lasted a month rather than, in some cases, 18 months, as we are seeing in some parts of Australia. And now we are having a complete overreaction to a virus with a very high survival rate by forcing vaccines and masks and school closures. I am sorry to see that you have bought into the propaganda on masks, the vast majority of which do not work to prevent viruses. Most masks (cloth masks and even the blue surgical masks) are nothing more than magical totems to assuage the superstitious, but they do nothing to prevent viruses from spreading.

  11. “Most masks (cloth masks and even the blue surgical masks) are nothing more than magical totems to assuage the superstitious, but they do nothing to prevent viruses from spreading.”
    I sure agree with this statement! I think it is the height (or depth) of silliness to wear masks at church while we sit quietly and the speakers take theirs off to spray us with aerosols and droplets while speaking. What is the point? And in our branch most are masked up during the meetings, then afterwards during the potluck we’re all unmasked sitting next to each other eating and talking up a storm! Again, what is the point of masks? Other than to virtue signal.
    I read that the reason surgeons wear masks is to protect themselves from spurting blood and other body fluids; and to prevent drool, spittle or other large droplets from getting into the surgical site. It was never about preventing an exchange of bacteria and viruses. To protect from those surgery would have to take place with everyone on respirators (think scuba gear) and in an vacuum, airless environment. Totally impractical.
    Anyway, masks are pointless for everyday life.

  12. Rozy, the science says you are correct, but I am not going to criticize the Church position on this. Our stake has taken a very good position, which is to make masks completely voluntary, and about one-third of people wear masks to Sacrament for their own reasons. There are a few people in our ward who are immuno-compromised, and if wearing a mask (or staying far away from them, which is what I do) makes them feel better, I am OK with that. My personal opinion is the Church is trying to promote kindness, which is always a good goal. But of course you are correct that the same people wearing masks to Sacrament then take the masks off for ward socials, so the whole thing is theater. But kind theater, nonetheless.

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