Herd Immunity Difficult to Achieve With Coronavirus- WHO States

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Image: Flickr: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIH

In the recent statement, the World Health Organization has stated that even after six months of the start of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the world is still far away from achieving herd immunity, which is a fundamental requirement to end the crisis in all countries.

Herd immunity is achieved after the majority of the population of the world has developed antibodies needed to stop the further spread of the pathogen. Generally, around seventy-percent of the population should have the antibodies in order to stop further spread.

This is usually done through widespread vaccination and testing. It can be a lengthy procedure that cannot be achieved in a few weeks. Instead, it may take months to make the majority immune even with the presence of an effective vaccine.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, many people have their hopes on developing global immunity to the virus for stopping the crisis effectively.

However, reports on the progress of the pandemic say that a very few percentages of the population have been infected and developed immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for causing coronavirus infection.

Therefore, some experts state that it can take a lot more time for the vast majority to develop antibodies against the virus. Now,  Dr. Michael Ryan, who is the chief of emergencies at the WHO, disagrees with the theory regarding the development of global herd immunity to the coronavirus.

“As a global population, we are nowhere close to the levels of immunity required to stop this disease transmitting,”  Ryans emphasized on a recent medical briefing on the progress over the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.

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He further added that hoping to develop immunity in order to control the virus spread is not something to consider in the case of coronavirus. Currently, the world is nowhere near developing immunity to the coronavirus.

Clinging on to the hope of developing worldwide immunity to the virus can also do more harm than good as it can cause a big number of fatalities in the time taken to achieve the goal.

According to studies present on the global impact of the coronavirus and developing immunity to the virus, only around ten to twenty percent of the infected people actually have the antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.

Recent research has even looked at the possibility of re-infection in people who have previously recovered from the virus. In some of the noted cases from around the world, experts noted that the immunity to the infection faded away in a matter of months to weeks in patients.

Although further investigation is needed on re-infection, there is plenty of evidence to show that it can take several more months and even a year to develop herd immunity to coronavirus infection.

What is the solution then? According to nearly all health agencies, people should stick to following guidelines and preventive measures for coronavirus while an effective vaccine has been tested and launched in the market.

Even after a vaccine is available, guidelines including wearing a mask and social distancing are fundamental given the highly contagious nature of the coronavirus. By following both steps, the coronavirus spread can be controlled in a far quicker time.

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