Herd Immunity: When will we reach herd immunity? And How does herd immunity work?

Various new terms made their way to world of knowledge when covid-19 outbreak occurred. Jabs, vaccines, precautions, immunity, and what not grabbed our attention. When these terms made our mindset perplexed, another concept of “ Herd Immunity ” got an introduction.

We saw this term being used by various medical professionals as an advice to adopt. Here comes the question of what is herd immunity. Let us have a look.

When coronavirus occurred, the threat automatically was directed towards those who had a low immune system.

Low immunity resulted in high fatality rate, and this scenario developed the concept of Herd Immunity.

The concept states that when most of the population is immune to an infectious disease, an indirect protection or herd immunity has been provided to those who are less immune.

Consider an example that if 80% of a population is immune to a virus, four out of every five people who encounter someone with the disease won’t get sick (and won’t spread the disease any further). In this way, the spread of infectious diseases is kept under control.

Depending to 90% of a population needs immunity to achieve herd immunity.

The prevalence of herd immunity plays an important role when it comes to health conditions of a community. History has numerous examples evident of the fact that herd immunity actually helped in preventing various infectious diseases and had put an end to it.

Chickenpox, measles, polio, mumps are the examples of infectious diseases that were once a curse to human life but now are nowhere to be found or very rare in existence because vaccines helped to establish herd immunity.

Other viruses (like the flu) mutate over time, so antibodies from a previous infection provide protection for only a short period of time. For the flu, this is less than a year.

If SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is like other coronaviruses that currently infected humans, it can be expected that people will get their immunity strong for a short span.

This brings us the conclusion, keeping in mind the current situation of a deadly pandemic, covid-19 that we can achieve herd immunity by opting any of the two possible ways.

First one is a rather risky attempt to opt, a large population should get infected in order to establish herd immunity or the second option says to get a proper vaccine as soon as one can to protect itself from the infections.

Since, the concept of herd immunity is a bit complicated to adopt and to understood, it will be a sight to witness what happens next.

Reference:

  1. Smith DR. Herd Immunity. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 2019 Nov;35(3):593-604. doi: 10.1016/j.cvfa.2019.07.001. PMID: 31590904.

  2. Randolph HE, Barreiro LB. Herd Immunity: Understanding COVID-19. Immunity. 2020 May 19;52(5):737-741. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2020.04.012. PMID: 32433946

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