No Herd immunity sans high fatality rate news jolt for India


In what could come as a disappointment to India, which has been looking towards achieving “herd immunity” as a way to tackle the Covid-19, a Spanish study conducted on more than 60,000 people has shown that just about 5 per cent of them developed antibodies.

Herd immunity is achieved when enough people become infected with a virus to stop its spread.

“Only 5 per cent from a total of 61,000 patients that participated in the research in Spain developed antibodies to be able to fight the Covid-19 respiratory disease debunking the concept of “herd immunity”, according to a population-based seroepidemiological survey in a study published in the Lancet Journal.

Experts found that Spain was “very far” from reaching the 60 per cent rate of infection within the community for the herd immunity to work, with the challenge of one-third of its population asymptomatic after contracting the virus.

The study found that SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were not developed in all of the 35,883 households infected with the coronavirus. “At present, herd immunity is difficult to achieve without accepting the collateral damage of many deaths in the susceptible population and overburdening of health systems,” researchers said.

Despite the high impact of Covid-19 in Spain, prevalence estimates remain low and are clearly insufficient to provide herd immunity, the study authors said.

Additionally, the researchers observed that for the herd immunity to develop, over 70 per cent to 90 per cent of the total population had to build resistance to coronavirus, which implied most people in the community had to be infected. With coronavirus symptoms for each patient different, there was a huge risk factor involved. Moreover, the study found that Covid-19 antibodies were less than 3 per cent in the coastal regions, the large stretch of areas in Spain.

The study holds importance in the context of India where the Government had been banking on achieving ‘herd immunity’ sooner or later to control the virus that has infected over seven lakhs people and killed over 20,000 in the country. In this situation, social distancing measures and efforts to identify and isolate new cases and their contacts remain imperative for future epidemic control.

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