Herd immunity.

Those are the buzzwords being trotted out by various government officials eager to get people back to work.

The premier of Quebec, François Legault, and his health ministers talked about it this week in their daily press conferences.

The idea is: people under a certain age will recover from COVID-19 and will then be immune to it. So, let them catch it, while senior citizens continue to lay low.

So, next week, the Quebec government will reveal its plan to restart the economy, and get kids back in school.

This after six weeks of telling everyone — of all ages — to stay home, wash our hands regularly, don’t touch our faces and if we have to go out to buy groceries or whatever, to practice social distancing. Oh, yes, and wear face masks.

Cities have been virtual ghost towns while terrified citizens have feared and shunned each other. Police have ticketed people seen getting too close to each other, to the tune of $1,500 plus for each infraction.

The economy has tanked while people have taken refuge in their homes, and governments have been racking up huge debts to help people layed off as a result of politicians’ decisions to lock down society and shutter most businesses in the first place.

Now politicians are throwing up their hands, Donald Trump style, and talking about rolling the proverbial dice: let the kids get sick, let people under the age of 60 get sick, and hopefully, they’ll make a full recovery and be immune to COVID-19 afterward.

Which begs a question or two: why didn’t they take this approach in the first place? Why did they destroy the economy and countless small businesses along with it when they could have simply told older folks to stay home until a vaccine is developed and let everybody else carry on mostly as usual, with some social distancing measures?

The answer, of course, is that they didn’t know six weeks ago that COVID-19 would mostly kill seniors, particularly those in seniors’ homes where COVID-19 has been spreading like wildfire in Quebec. About 90 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Quebec — some 1,300 — have been elderly people, mostly in aforementioned residences.

But most of the rest of the 23,500 people who have the disease in Quebec will recover from it.

There are potential flaws and risks in the herd immunity idea, and it could backfire. We could see millions of people come down with COVID-19 in Quebec and while most of them might recover, some won’t. How many? Who knows. Five to 15 percent of, say 4 million people in a population of 8 million plus? That’s acceptable?

And what about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on people who are asymptomatic or who recover after being ill with it? Does anybody know?

Clearly, officials in Quebec and many other cities are screwed. They’re damned if they do — and if they don’t. And many citizens have been so terrified for the past six weeks that they may be viewing the herd immunity idea with some — or a lot — of skepticism. In particular, school bus drivers, teachers and other adults in the education system are expressing fears about the plan to open schools to one million kids in May, and many parents are already saying they won’t send their young ‘uns back this spring.

Quebec officials are saying they will reopen society gradually and cautiously, running tests every week and backtracking if necessary. They have said it could take two years to get back to normal.

Or more if there is a second wave — which is expected.

So it’s a no-win situation in the short to medium term. People are going to suffer in myriad ways in Quebec and around the world.

Unless, of course, a vaccine is found that will cure COVID-19.

Know that a lot of people are working on it.

Find hope in their efforts.

— Jillian