People’s physical and mental well-being is not only affected by the novel coronavirus, but it also brought along a flood of panic and confusion. To survive this pandemic, millions of people have tried to reinstate various solutions, scientists and medical professionals have continued to develop various means to suppress the spread of the virus. Many have been curious to figure out whether ‘herd immunity’ can be an appropriate solution to combat COVID-19 and really it could stop the spread of the virus on a large scale or not.
When most of the population is immune to an infectious disease or bacteria, this provides indirect protection or herd immunity, also known as herd protection to those who are not immune to the disease. For example, if 80% of a population is immune to a virus, then four out of every five people, who encounter someone with the disease will not get sick and will not spread the disease any further. In this way, the spread of infectious diseases is kept under control. Depending on how infectious a disease is, usually, 50% to 90% of a population needs immunity to gain herd immunity.
How to Achieve Herd Immunity?
Naturally one can develop resistance. When a person’s body is exposed to a virus or bacteria, it makes antibodies to fight back the infection. When the person recovers, their body keeps these antibodies and by this, the body will defend against another infection. Researchers think the community reached the right level for herd immunity. Vaccines can also build resistance; they make one’s body think a virus or bacteria has infected it. Even if when one does not get sick, the body’s immune system still makes protective antibodies. The next time when the body meets that bacteria or virus, it is ready to fight it off.
Danger side of the immunity
Herd immunity may seem like a feasible solution at the time when COVID-19 cases continue to flow, but according to renowned virologists and epidemiologists, natural immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus lasts only three to nine months. It is said that practicing herd immunity would mean that almost 70% of the population would have to get reinfected every nine months. Apart from this, people falling under the category of most vulnerable would become even more prone to the infection, increasing the rate of mortality. While many believe in the idea of herd immunity, experts are still skeptical about the number of recovered patients that need to be in the community to break the chain of the COVID-19 diffusion.
Text by: Adrita Roy, IBTN9