64ºF

WHO chief scientist sees no herd immunity to COVID-19 yet

About 50% to 60% of population will need to be immune for any protective 'herd immunity' effect

FILE - Jerry A Mann, second from right, is held by his grandmother, Sylvia Rubio, as he is tested for COVID-19 by the San Antonio Fire Department at a free walk-up test site set up to help underserved and minority communities in San Antonio, Thursday, May 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
FILE - Jerry A Mann, second from right, is held by his grandmother, Sylvia Rubio, as he is tested for COVID-19 by the San Antonio Fire Department at a free walk-up test site set up to help underserved and minority communities in San Antonio, Thursday, May 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LONDON – The chief scientist at the World Health Organization estimates that about 50% to 60% of the population will need to be immune to the coronavirus for there to be any protective “herd immunity” effect.

Herd immunity is usually achieved through vaccination and occurs when most of a population is immune to a disease, blocking its continued spread.

During a social media event on Friday, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said that studies done from some countries hit hard by COVID-19 show that about 5% to 10% of people now have antibodies, though in some countries, it has been as high as 20%.

She says: “As there are waves of this infection going through countries, people are going to develop antibodies and those people will hopefully be immune for sometime so they will also act as barriers and brakes to the spread.”

Read also: CDC: COVID-19 patients can end isolation after 10 days if no symptoms

Other experts have estimated that as much as 70% to 80% of the population need to have antibodies before there is any herd immunity effect.

In the pandemic’s earlier stages, countries including Britain proposed achieving herd immunity as an outbreak response strategy. But Swaminathan pointed out that achieving this effect with a vaccine is much safer than letting the virus rip through the population.

She says that to achieve herd immunity through natural infection, you need to have several waves and you will see the morbidity and mortality that we see now.

Read also:

15 die of COVID-19 in Bexar County, San Antonio

New Braunfels hospital making adjustments amid rising ICU intake, staff strain

Coronavirus update San Antonio, July 23: County judge says jail ‘running out of room’ due to overcrowding from inmates not taken by state

Cameron County hospitals struggle to make room for COVID-19 patients after reaching capacity

New school safety tool to be added to San Antonio’s COVID-19 dashboard for parents

How long is someone with COVID-19 contagious?