Herd Immunity: With increasing number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, discussions about ‘herd immunity’ is growing louder. In the current scenario, it is a risky move of intentionally exposing 60-70 per cent of young and healthy population of a region to the novel coronavirus believing that their immune systems can develop antibodies against the pathogen and help them become immune to it. Also Read - Coronavirus in Gujarat: Senior Congress Leader Dies of COVID-19 in Ahmedabad
What is Herd Immunity?
Herd immunity is a way to achieve mass immunity against an infection at a fast rate. It is usually adopted when an effective vaccine is unavailable and a larger number people are getting affected by a pathogen and losing lives. Also Read - Amid COVID-19 Lockdown, Big Bureaucratic Reshuffle in Govt, PM's Trusted Aides Get Key Economic Roles
It is believed that herd immunity can benefit the society at large and is most helpful for the vulnerable group (children, people above 65 years of age, and those with chronic conditions). The idea behind this is that when most of the people in a community are immune to a certain disease, its likelihood of spreading to the vulnerable ones indirectly becomes extremely low as the pathogen doesn’t get too many ways to spread. Also Read - COVID-19 Patient Credits Meditation For Recovering in One Week, Recommends it in 'Daily Life to Boost Immunity'
Sweden and UK are two countries which adopted this method to control the pandemic in their regions. Recently, Sweden announced that its capital city Stockholm is a few weeks away from reaching the herd immunity.
However, UK’s plan to develop herd immunity in their population failed drastically leaving 20,000 people to die from the novel infection. The unimaginable consequence forced the UK government to issue a nation-wide lockdown order.
Why Can’t we Opt For Herd Immunity?
Reason why herd immunity is not a solution to beat Coronavirus:
Well, it is a super risky method to adopt especially for a developing country like India, where the medical facilities and advancements are not sufficient.
Here, community transmission can become a huge burden on medical resources. It can overwhelm hospitals leading to a medical chaos and death of a huge number of population.
Also, there is no guarantee that healthy individuals will not get critically ill or die after contracting COVID-19. It is just a vague assumption that the entire young generation can host the virus without being hospitalised or dead. Also, there is no prove, until now, that getting recovered from coronavirus infection once can lead to a life-long immunity against the virus. So, what if people start to get reinfected? Are we in a position to take this risk? Certainly ‘NO’.
Another reason why we are not following the foot-steps of Sweden is because working adults in this European country do not live with their parents (old and vulnerable group). However in India, majority of the people have elderly parents at their homes where they come back every evening after work. In this case, letting them get infected with the COVID-19 virus means making the elderly people exposed to the virus as well. This can lead to a massive spike in the number of deaths due to the coronavirus.
So, it is better to stay at home, follow social distancing norms, and adopt all the protective methods to keep ourselves safe from the virus until an effective vaccine comes.