Innovation

Could Herd Immunity Put An End To Coronavirus Pandemic?

The search for a viable solution to address the COVID-19 pandemic continues, although each suggestion comes with a risk. Aside from that, there are also limitations - the most glaring of which is a coronavirus vaccine that may take time to develop. Herd immunity has been suggested but this recourse is not spared from the two factors previously mentioned.

Herd immunity is achieved when a majority of a given population becomes immune to an infectious disease, CNN reported. By majority, this means that about 70 to 90 percent of the population for a certain region. Immune in the sense that most of them have become immune to the disease possibly due to being infected, recovered or through vaccination. Given that scenario, a virus holds low chances of spreading because the number of carriers would be low.

But to achieve herd immunity, there is one important missing element to get it done. Widespread vaccination will be needed but most know that this is something that is still many months away. Researchers and scientists are rushing to work on one. So far, they have had no success.

As an example, there is the remdesivir experimental virus drug that was under development. According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the potential COVID-19 treatment failed in its first randomized clinical trial and has dampened expectations on the closely monitored drug. This is the same scenario that most scientists and researchers are facing, a reality under normal circumstances.

Assuming that there is already a vaccine, herd immunity may be a possible resolution but does not exclude risks. Allowing the virus to plow through a population does not guarantee that all may be able to handle it. Hence, some people could die not just from it but from some other type of infection.

It is for this reason that Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the World Health Organization (WHO), believes it would still be best to wait for a vaccine. There is no telling if people exposed to the virus would be completely immune. And even if they are, there is the question of how long.

"The WHO has seen some preliminary results, some preliminary studies, pre-published results, where some people will develop an immune response," Van Kerkhove said. "We don't know if that actually confers immunity, which means that they're totally protected."

COVID-19 Coronavirus Drug - Remdesivir One vial of the drug Remdesivir lies during a press conference about the start of a study with the Ebola drug Remdesivir in particularly severely ill patients at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, northern Germany on April 8, 2020, amidst the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. ULRICH PERREY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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