Herd immunity is one of the ways we can fight the novel Coronavirus, proposed by scientists from around the world. Some are optimistic about it, while others are downright rejecting it. But what herd immunity actually is and why is it significant for us in battling COVID-19? Doctors from the best hospital in Gurgaon explain in this blog post in a simple manner.
What is Herd Immunity?
Herd Immunity is a phenomenon when large masses of population have gained immunity from an infectious disease either by getting infection or through vaccination. Thereby, this provides an indirect protection to the other proportion of the population who are yet to be infected. The infectious disease in this case is the COVID-19 and scientists believe we can defeat the virus when a significant percentage of people get infected by the disease and develop immunity to the disease.
It was first discovered in the 1930s when it was found that children started becoming immune to measles and there was a drop in infections. Since then, the government has always pushed for vaccination to achieve herd immunity.
The polio vaccination that is given to children every year is a good example of herd immunity. The goal is to vaccinate every child on the planet to prevent the disease from resurfacing.
Why is Herd Immunity Important?
Herd immunity is important because it serves two purposes. First, it makes the people immune to the disease. Individuals who get the disease either die because of it or survive. The ones who survive develop antibodies that make them unsusceptible to the disease. The other way people can develop these antibodies is by getting vaccinated. Vaccines contain antigens, which train your immune system to recognize the disease-causing foreign viruses and trigger immune response to prevent them from spreading. In either of the cases, you develop natural tendencies to fight against the disease.
The other purpose is it protects those who cannot receive the vaccine for some reasons. These groups can be people who either have an extremely weak immune system to whom it is potentially hazardous. The goal of herd immunity is to protect the ones who are most vulnerable to the disease by immunizing the ones who are least. In case of COVID-19, these are people who are of age 60 or more.
Herd immunity also breaks the chain of transmission. When a certain group of people cannot be affected by the disease, they possibly cannot infect the ones they come in direct contact with.
To achieve herd community, scientists around the globe are racing to develop a proper vaccine. This is mainly because deliberately infecting people is a terrible idea given that it is ten times more fatal than flu. Elderly and people with weak immunity may not survive the infection to develop the antibodies.
Patients coming into our clinic in Gurgaon with COVID-19 symptoms are receiving proper sanitization and are kept under best hygiene protocols. While the recovery rate in Delhi is 45% which is encouraging, we must stay vigilant till there’s a vaccine and we achieve herd immunity as a species.