In recent weeks, people from across the world started to assume that exposure to the COVID-19 would be beneficial and it will take us to Herd Immunity. Now scientists are saying we are far away from such.
According to JHSPH when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protection to those who are not immune to the disease, this is called Herd Immunity.
Various countries have successfully achieved herd immunity against many diseases like chicken pox, mumps, polio, and measles etc. These diseases were very common in past but human body has achieved herd immunity from these diseases.
Achieving Herd Immunity:
The world is far away from achieving herd immunity against COVID-19. There are two ways of developing it in human body. First is, using vaccines. All the health experts say that the vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 will take more than 12 months.
The second way to develop herd immunity is exposure to COVID-19. Rather than waiting for the vaccine which might take years to develop, this is a lot quicker and easier way. This way seems to be very easy but it may have deadly consequences.
Human body develops immunity against viruses once it defeats a particular virus. This is the principle for this second way to achieve it. Scientists are not certain whether human body can develop immunity for this virus, the SARS-CoV-2, or not.
A previous study showed that the coronavirus recovered patients are not affected by the virus again and they do not spread it either. This was only one study and is yet not much reliable.
We even don’t know how long does it take for a COVID-19 patient to recover. Recovery may be dependant upon the exposure to the virus but there are no studies on this. Experts can’t tell an estimated time for a patient required to recover.
In addition, it is also not known that how long this immunity lasts. Scientists think that recovered patients would have some immunity but details are very much unknown. Keeping in view these uncertainties, it is foolish to expose yourself to coronavirus.
Exposure without research would lead to a lot more deaths and alarming consequences. If people willingly get COVID-19, there would be a great need of treatment equipment especially ventilators and isolation centers.
The number of affected people is very small to meet the herd immunity requirements, as it needs almost 70-80% of the population to have immunity. However, the current numbers of infected people are very small, country-wise.
There are only 2,390,000 COVID-19 patients, worldwide, who have recovered from the virus. This is quite a discouraging number.
According to American physician and immunologist and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Stephen Fauci, “we really can’t depend on herd immunity until we get either enough people infected, or enough people vaccinated.”
“Eventually, we [will] achieve herd immunity, but we don’t want that to happen quickly,” says Gypsyamber D’Souza, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. “There would be so many deaths.” Both of these experts don’t recommend it.
Experts think that both of these ways are long term projects. Developing immunity by getting the virus may be possible. Dr Fauci suggests that no one should do it willingly.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
World is far away from achieving herd immunity. Vaccination and exposure to the virus intentionally are the two ways to achieve it.
Vaccine does not seem to be accessible very soon. While the other way, exposing oneself voluntarily, is denied by experts. Experts consider it possible only if people get infected by the virus naturally and then recover.