Herd Immunity is defined as resistance to the spread of an infectious disease within a population that is based on pre-existing immunity of a high proportion of individuals as a result of previous infection or vaccination. In other words, this is indirect protection to those who are not immune to a disease when most of a population is immune to that infectious disease.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak earlier this year, there has been much talk about the concept of herd immunity and how it can work so that the virus is no longer a threat if enough people have developed immunity to it.
According to John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health state that usually between 50% and 90% of a population needs immunity in order to achieve herd immunity, depending on how contagious the infection is. They explain that herd immunity can keep the spread of infectious diseases under control because if 80% of a population is immune to a specific virus, four out of every five people who come into contact with someone infected with the disease won’t become ill, and also will not spread the virus any further.
Immunity is achieved either by being directly exposed or through vaccination. Researchers believe that about 50-70% of the population would need to be immune to Covid-19 in order to benefit from long term herd immunity. According to Covid Symptom Study, this is unfortunately unlikely to be achieved any time soon based on the number of people who have contracted the virus to date. It is worth mentioning that if some of the population have pre-existing protective memory T cells, the herd immunity thresholds will be lower and so fewer of us need to contract the disease in order to protect the whole population.
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