Currently, there are trials going on around the world for testing different formulas of a potential coronavirus which can eventually help in controlling the ongoing health crisis. Even though positive results are being reported, many people are still relying on the concept of herd immunity for the end of the pandemic.
Herd immunity against a particular pathogen is achieved when the majority of the world’s population develops antibodies to fight the prevailing disease, which then makes it less dangerous and unlikely to spread as fast as it did before.
There have been a number of examples of global immunity developing after outbreaks of a particular infection around the world with the most recent and prominent being the end of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919.
At the moment, many people are expecting that the only way to control the novel coronavirus is by achieving global immunity once again. In addition, even some government officials, specifically those in the US, have promoted the idea.
Even though the immunity to disease has been developed prior to the coronavirus pandemic by the global population, the medical community ,states that most forget the costs of relying on herd immunity to control the spread of a particular pathogen.
The Trump administration has repeatedly stated that only widespread immunity to SARS-CoV-2 can end the virus. However, this can lead to nearly half of the US being infected with the virus along with multiple other negative health outcomes that are not known by people.
According to a new open letter, which appears in the journal the Lancet, assuming global immunity is going to save people and end the pandemic is an unreliable idea and can have dangerous implications.
Dozens of health care experts and epidemiologists have signed the letter to show that relying only on herd immunity can further strain the healthcare systems, cause an even higher number of cases and lead to more deaths as well.
In the US, more than eight million people have already been infected but the mortality rates still remain to be very high.
For herd immunity to develop, it can take months or even a year, and even then the immunity will develop if at least fifty to sixty percent of the population has been infected and recovered.
During this process, there is no way to ensure the virus will only spread and infected the ‘less vulnerable’ group of people or those who do not have a significant risk of developing a severe form of infection as well as related complications.
Consequently, the mortality rates are bound to go up not only in older adults but in younger people as well.
Instead of relying on herd immunity, it is better to impose restrictions and urge people to take preventive measures seriously, according to the new letter.
Although coronavirus-related restrictions have also caused multiple issues for people, they have been the most effective in controlling virus spread and preventing millions of cases around the world.
Even if a vaccine is developed, the virus is unlikely to be controlled if guidelines for prevention are not followed.