We are together fighting battles with COVID, but individually. While there are countries where the curve is flattening, others like India have cases still continuing to rise. Social distancing is said to be our only sheath to survival, but can this is not true? Are we dealing with corona the wrong way?
Some experts believe it to be true, and that is why more people are in favor of building herd immunity to fight the pandemic rather than sitting at homes waiting for all of this to be over. Herd immunity can be an answer to this crisis, just like it was to measles.
The United Kingdom and the Netherlands were the first countries to take the herd immunity approach in dealing with COVID-19. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the “herd immunity” strategy to be experimental at best and dangerous at worst.
So how does this herd immunity actually work? One way is through mass vaccinations, which, as we all know, are still in clinical trial processes.
The second is through the creation of antibodies, wherein a person who catches Coronavirus develops antibodies to fight it and thus becomes immune to the disease. A lot of people though, have to develop coronavirus in order for herd immunity approach to work. But how many people exactly? The answer is – It varies from disease to disease. With a contagious disease such as coronavirus, the greater population needs to be immune to the disease to stop its spread.
Herd immunity requires a sufficient number of people in the population to have recovered from a disease and have developed antibodies against future infection. But with COVID 19, it is still unclear if the virus can make us future immune or not.
Even if infection with the COVID-19 virus creates a shield for the future, a large number of people would have to become infected to reach the herd immunity threshold. Experts estimate that in that at least 70-80% would have to recover from COVID-19 to stop the crisis. But our healthcare systems cannot capacitate such a massive number of expected patients, and also the infection could also lead to serious complications and millions of deaths, especially in older people and those who have underlying health conditions.
But considering how quarantine has made people restless, and they now being callous about community safety are brimming in public areas without safety precautions; the concept of herd immunity could be given some weightage.
Herd Immunity for India, a Terrible Idea
As for India, getting the idea of herd immunity into practice is a “terrible idea” according to experts. “We are finding that even healthy and young people are getting very ill. We can’t be cavalier about this. We have to protect these people. Herd Immunity in India is a terrible idea as millions will die, even young people,” said the Director of Harvard Global Health Institute, Ashish Jha, while talking to Rahul Gandhi at a conference.
Jha said COVID-19 is here to stay for more than a year and pressed that aggressive testing is the only solution that will help India combat the virus, as it will bring the most vulnerable ones forward in the country.