Definition: Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from disease. It occurs when a significant amount of the population becomes immune and therefore reduces the spread of disease to the rest of the population.
Likely, you’ve now heard of the term “herd immunity.” But, what does it really mean, and why is it important? Find out all you need to know about herd immunity and how it can benefit you.
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Herd Immunity and Hope for Stopping COVID-19
What Is Herd Immunity?
“Population immunity,” also known as “herd immunity,” is the indirect protection from a certain infectious disease, which happens when the wider population is immune to it, either developing immunity through previous infection or vaccination.
This method of slowing down the transmission of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 is supported by the WHO. However, this is only acceptable when done naturally and not by encouraging any portion of the population to transmit disease. This would result in needless cases and deaths.
Why Is Herd Immunity Important?
Herd immunity can easily be understood when a large portion of the population becomes infected and then immune to a disease that makes it unlikely to spread from person to person. As a result, the whole population becomes protected, including the ones who are already immune.
How many people or what percentage of a community needs to be immune to the disease for herd immunity to work? The answer to this question may vary depending on the disease and its characteristics. The more contagious the disease, the greater the percentage of the community needs to have immunity to stop it from spreading.
For instance, it’s estimated that at least 94% of the population needs to be immune to a disease such as measles to interrupt its highly contagious transmission.
How to Achieve Herd Immunity
There are two available approaches to herd immunity for the coronavirus pandemic, which are vaccination and infection.
Creating a vaccine for COVID-19 is probably the ideal way to achieve herd immunity. Vaccination can give you immunity without causing any complications and illness. Herd immunity enables the whole population to be immune to disease, including those who have compromised immune systems or those who can not be vaccinated.
Through vaccination, deadly contagious diseases such as polio, smallpox, rubella, diphtheria, and various others have all been sufficiently eradicated in terms of an outbreak.
However, achieving herd immunity through vaccines often has some drawbacks. Some vaccines may have their effect decrease over time and require revaccination. Moreover, sometimes people tend to forget or ignore the vaccines’ follow-on shots, which are crucial for completing the disease’s immunity.
Additionally, some people might even be against vaccination because of cultural or religious beliefs, fear of the risks, or are skeptical about its benefits. This kind of opposition can create a real challenge for herd immunity.
Another way to achieve herd immunity is through natural infection. This happens when a sufficient number of people in the community recover from a disease and develop their own immunity against it in the future, for instance. Those who survived and recovered from the influenza pandemic in 1918 were later found to be immune to H1N1 flu, a subtype of influenza A.
However, relying on community infection to create herd immunity to COVID-19 has some issues. It still isn’t clear if people who recover from COVID-19 will be able to fight off future infections. Research suggests that reinfection from the same virus is possible, but further investigation and research are needed to test these unknown possibilities.
Experts estimate that 70% of the whole population, which is about 230 million Americans, need to get infected and recover to create herd immunity and halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be a problem as it will put a lot of pressure on the health care system as it will not be able to cope if all of these people become sick at once.
According to the worldometer website, there had been more than 21 million infected cases of COVID-19 in the US at the time of writing, and only 12 million had successfully recovered. That’s going to be a very long way until we achieve herd immunity.
How You Can Slow the Transmission of COVID-19
It’s essential to slow down the spreading of COVID-19, protect yourself and your loved ones until there is a way to get rid of it for good.
- Stay at least 6 feet or 2 meters away and avoid close contact with sick people or those who have symptoms.
- Avoid big crowds, including events and gatherings.
- Wear face masks.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Always bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching any surfaces in public places.
- Clean and disinfect highly touched surfaces like door handles, mobile devices, and switches.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or your elbow.
- Avoid sharing dishes, utensils, food, or bedding with others.
- Contact a medical center or the authorities if you have any symptoms.
- Keep track of your current health condition with a cough tracking app like Hyfe. It can help you keep track and monitor the number of times you cough, the tone, and the duration of the symptoms. This gives you objective insights into your coughing and can help you monitor your health in the context of pollution, asthma, or even Covid19.
Hyfe uses artificial intelligence to identify coughs. It counts every cough and allows you to compare and track your coughing over time. This gives you objective insights into your coughing and can help you monitor your health in the context of pollution, asthma, or even COVID-19. Stay on top of your health by tracking your cough with Hyfe.
Let us know what you have learned after reading this article. Have you tried health tracking apps? What was your experience? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!