WHO chief scientist sees no herd immunity yet

24 Jul 2020 19:15, Somoy English Desk
WHO chief scientist sees no herd immunity yet
WHO chief scientist sees no herd immunity yet

The novel coronavirus has infected over 15.4 million (15,446,800) people worldwide and killed as many as 632,178, according to the latest data released by Johns Hopkins University. At least 8.7 million patients have recovered globally.

Nearly half of the total number of global cases have emerged from the three worst-hit countries — the US, Brazil and India.

The United States recorded more than 1,100 Covid-related deaths for the third day in a row on Thursday, news agency Reuters reported. However, despite the surge, the country remains well below levels seen in April, when it was recording an average of 2,000 fatalities per day.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US crossed the grim 4 million mark. An average of 2,600 new cases are being added to the countries’ caseload every hour, which is the highest rate in the world.

Meanwhile, the caseload stands at 2,287,475 in the world’s second-worst impacted country, Brazil. The Latin American nation is followed by India, where total cases rose to 1,288,108 on Friday.

WHO chief scientist sees no herd immunity yet
The chief scientist at the World Health Organization estimates that about 50 per cent to 60 per cent 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 per cent to 10 per cent of people now have antibodies, though in some countries, it has been as high as 20 per cent.

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.”

Other experts have estimated that as much as 70 per cent to 80 per cent 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.


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