What is herd immunity and why some think it could end the coronavirus pandemic
April 23, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.
Herd immunity, also called herd protection, is what happens when the majority of a population is immune to an infectious disease.
As the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the world, doctors, scientists, and government leaders alike have said that once herd immunity was achieved, the spread of the virus would be less of a threat.
Herd immunity is reached when the majority of a given population -- 70 to 90% -- becomes immune to an infectious disease, either because they have become infected and recovered, or through vaccination.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the World Health Organization (WHO), said it's not known whether people who have been exposed to the virus become completely immune to it and if so, for how long.
"The level of people who've been infected, I don't expect it would rise to the level to give what we call herd immunity protection," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN's Jim Scuitto on Tuesday.
"What it will mean, it would protect those who have been exposed, but at the community level there would not have been enough infections to really have enough umbrella of herd immunity," Fauci said.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde has said it's not following the herd immunity theory, but rather relying on its citizens to voluntarily be responsible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
With a prick of a finger, the tests, which aim to detect if you've contracted the coronavirus, can help public health officials determine what portion of the population has been infected and, in theory anyway, has at least some immunity to the virus, said Caroline Buckee, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.