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Can Herd Immunity Really
Help Fight COVID-19? As the world continues to deal with COVID-19,
herd immunity has been referred to
by many as the “key to reopening.” Herd immunity occurs when enough of a
population becomes immune to a disease,
which decreases its ability to spread. This is achieved through either mass vaccinations
or through mass exposure to the virus. Both result
in recovered individuals developing antibodies. A vaccine for COVID-19 will likely be unavailable for quite
some time, meaning purposeful exposure to the virus is
the only current route to achieving herd immunity. Here are a few reasons why pushing for herd
immunity may not be the best course of action
right now, according to experts. At this point, it is not confirmed whether those
who recover from COVID-19 actually build an
immunity or how long that immunity lasts. Immunity to the 2003 SARS virus lasted
up to two years, while immunity to the
common cold only lasts a few months. As pointed out by Anna Bershteyn of NYU Langone
Health, the science surrounding COVID-19 is
"just not far enough along for us to know
what it takes to actually be immune." The percentage of the population that
needs to be immune in order to achieve
herd immunity is also unknown. Jeremy Rossman of the University of Kent estimates
we’ll need “between 60-70 percent of the population
to be immune” to COVID-19, but that number could
easily change and have major consequences. Jeremy Rossman,
via Huffpost Attempting to achieve herd immunity
without a vaccine would result in millions of cases,
most likely overwhelming health systems. According to Rossman, an influx
of cases at that level would mean
at least one million total deaths in the U.S.
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