What Is 'Herd Immunity' and How Can That Stop the Coronavirus?

17 Mars, 2020, 10:51 | Auteur: Yves Courtet

Coronavirus repeat infection: Can you catch coronavirus twice? And in order to do that, some countries like Australia and the United Kingdom are considering to self-infect low-risk population with coronavirus to build long term immunity.

"Herd immunity is not our goal or policy, it's a scientific concept". Although it's fascinating, herding as a strategy to combat coronavirus could be risky as it is based on a number of assumptions and they need to be correct.

By being immunized, a person does not only protect himself from a pathogen, but also he can not transmit the infection to other people. If a large percentage of a population develops immunity towards the virus, the chains of infection are likely to be disrupted, which slows down the spread of disease. As public opinion soured on Johnson's "herd immunity" policy that from the outside looks like it was created to protect the economy over British lives, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has tried to assure the public in an initially paywalled article for the Telegraph that the government is instead trying to protect them and the NHS and herd immunity was not in fact the policy. The greater the proportion of immunes in an area, the smaller the probability that those who are not immune will come into the contact with infected people.

Herd immunity is a standard feature of disease management and has worked for the control of a whole host of diseases, such as many types of flu and severe illnesses, such as measles.

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Dr. William Hanage, a professor of the evolution and epidemiology of infectious disease at Harvard, said that the U.K.'s aim of herd immunity is to manage the outbreak and prevent a devastating second wave in the coming months or during the next winter. The UK wants infection BUT of particular categories of people.

Herd immunity is when a large number of people are vaccinated against a disease, lowering the chances of others being infected by it. "Immune people can not infect others; the more there are the lower the risk of infection", Donald said. The attack rate decreased faster than coverage increased, and researchers who examined the association between incidence of measles and immunization coverage among preschool-age children concluded that immunization coverage of about 80% may be enough to stop sustained measles outbreaks in an urban community.

With the number of hospitalisations as a result of coronavirus infection expected to be close to eight million by 2021, there will be a massive strain on the British health system to deal with such cases. "That balance is a big risk". While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the practice of social distancing, proper hygiene, and self-isolation, especially for those at higher risk or those with suspected infection. The data on infections need to be accurate and the measures being taken up need to work at the exact time and to the degree, they are required. British officials acknowledged that about 60 percent of the population might get sick, but being younger, they would probably recover, while the government would focus its attention on protecting the most vulnerable, the elderly. "This is the end state the govt is aiming for and could achieve", professor Donald writes.

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