Is Herd Immunity capable of eradicating COVID-19?
Ever since the lockdown was imposed across the globe, there have been different researches and opinions hailing from a different bunch of doctors to stop the spread of deadly Corona Virus. One amongst them is the herd immunity. Is it just a myth? Or there lies some atom of truth in this advice?
When a major part of any population is exposed to any particular virus, their bodies become immune to it and this situation is known as herd immunity. If pathogen like coronavirus is left to itself, it will spread quickly among persons across communities and regions. It leaves behind a trail of people who develop immunity to that virus. Consequently, they do not fall prey to this virus ever again. Likewise, when a great portion of people in any particular area develops such immunity, the virus loses its transmissibility eventually.
The argument says that the spread of Covid-19 will cease to exist when the world will reach the stage of herd immunity. However, there is no such data to tell how many people should get infected to develop herd immunity in society.
There is no denial from the fact that immunity plays a vital role in fighting from any disease. And to boost immunity, we are given the medicines. But medicines do not kill the viruses rather it fires the antibodies that we have inside our bodies to counter any pathogens. Antibodies are shields that we have against a virus. However, there is no such medicine against coronavirus infection yet.
Considering the case of vaccines then they are not way too different. In order to fight back the targeted disease or pathogen, vaccines raise a standing army of antibodies in the body. But there is no vaccine for Covid-19 so far.
Now the questions arise, Will this herd immunity really work?
According to some researches, if 60-90% of the population of a place is immune to a virus, herd immunity is attained. And it has been achieved for many diseases in the past such as polio, measles, mumps, and chickenpox but the process of immunization were really painstaking.
But there are some major problems with these vaccines. Such as, it has been observed and argued that it kills the natural immunity of humans.
The US saw its worst measles outbreak in 25 years in 2019. The same year, Europe reported more than 90,000 cases of measles in the first six months. This is the case in the richest countries when universal immunization for measles stood at over 85 percent.
Another problem with herd immunity is the problem of the herd itself. Meaning to say that, person’s herd changes with movements, relocation, and migration for even tourist travel, or even if a new friend circle is capable of breaching herd immunity.
Now in the case of COVID-19, the fatality rate is higher than many other infectious diseases. It is essentially an oxygen-starving illness. This is why Covid-19 aggravates most co-morbid conditions. Hence, the herd community may be a feasible approach for diseases such as flu or even measles; it can be an extremely risky proposition for coronavirus.
Taking into consideration the case of India; 3 lakh Covid-19 cases are equally smaller percentage of over the 135 crore population of India. Similarly, on a global level, 72 lakh cases do not even stand closer to the 750 crore population of the world.
Therefore, herd immunity in the case of coronavirus seems to be unrealistic. Unless and until there is any super vaccine developed and administered to enough people, this pathogen will exist among us.