Kaieteur News – Herd immunity is needed to arrest the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Herd immunity refers to the threshold of persons needed to develop immunity in order to stem the spread of the virus.
Once a certain number of persons in a community become immunised, either through vaccination or having being infected and recovered, then the disease spread is slowed. For example if 80 percent of the population develops immunity, it means four out of every five persons will not get sick, and eventually this will stop the spread of the disease.
This is why the government is seeking to vaccinate 80 percent of the population. This is their threshold for herd immunity. If they achieve this target through vaccination or through immunity developed by recovered patients, then the pandemic will end and normalcy restored.
The evidence shows that vaccination is extremely effective in preventing the severe form of the disease which can lead to hospitalisation and deaths. In fact, while a vaccinated person may still get sick from the virus, he or she is rarely likely to be hospitalised or die. Just recently the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA said that 99.5% of those who died over the past six months were not vaccinated.
Vaccination is working. While the infections due to the Delta variant have been increasing, for example, in the United Kingdom, deaths have been low. On Wednesday, the United Kingdom (UK) recorded a staggering 43,907 new infections but only 73 deaths. In contrast, Brazil had 27,896 new cases on Tuesday and 1,425 deaths.
The reason for the low death toll in the UK is vaccination. While only 17.1 percent of Brazilians have been fully vaccinated, 54.8 percent of the UK’s population have been fully vaccinated. Almost 70 percent of the population of the UK have received at least a first dose as compared to 45.8 percent in Brazil.
Less than two weeks ago, 70,000 persons were able to attend the Euro 2020 soccer finals in Wembley. And just recently England and Pakistan played to full house in a T20 match at Old Trafford. Vaccination is allowing the British people to return to normalcy; it is doing the same in the United States.
In the meantime, the second limited overs match between Australia and the West Indies, which was scheduled to play to an empty stadium in Barbados, had to be postponed because of a non-playing member of the West Indies Team tested positive.
Vaccination, however, is not perfect. No vaccine is 100 percent fool proof. You can still contract the virus if you are vaccinated. But given the high efficacy levels of the vaccines available, it is not likely that more than two out of every 10 persons vaccinated will contract the virus being fully vaccinated.
Vaccination is also necessary to achieve herd immunity. Once Guyana reaches herd immunity, the virus will be unable to spread. But herd immunity appears now to be impossible given the high incidence of vaccine hesitancy. But even if everyone who was eligible to take the vaccine did so, herd immunity would still not be achieved.
Herd immunity cannot be achieved at present because more than 30 percent of the population is under the age of 18 years. There are no vaccines for the under 18s. What this means is that if every adult takes the vaccine, the maximum number of persons who can be vaccinated will only be 70 percent. The government says that 80 percent is the target for herd immunity.
Presently 244,365 persons have had first doses in Guyana. This is less than one-third of the population. And in terms of second doses, only 129,361 persons have had their second dose; this is 17 percent of the population. Guyana is therefore a long way from reaching 70 percent of the population.
Even so, the numbers who are presently vaccinated would help to drive down deaths. Deaths may be high now but imagine how higher it would have been had there not been this tremendous effort to provide vaccines.
The unvaccinated section of the population will continue to be exposed to the risk of contracting the virus, getting severely sick and even dying. This will happen until the country gets to herd immunity.
We know that a few children have succumbed to this vaccine. And the Ministry of Health is saying that younger persons are now becoming more severely infected and requiring hospitalisation.
Even in the best-case scenario, some more children will die. We can help to reduce the deaths of children by ensuring that every adult is vaccinated. The closer the country gets to the herd immunity threshold, more children lives can be saved.
The figure for herd immunity can be lowered if there is a reduction in the reproduction number – the number of persons each person infects. A lower reproduction number would mean a lower herd immunity number. This is why wearing masks, staying at home and keeping social distance and lockdowns are just as important as having everyone vaccinated.
The voter turnout in Guyana was over 70 percent at the last elections. But the turnout for vaccines so far is only 50 percent. Politics it seems is more important than safety.
Until herd immunity is achieved, every adult has a duty to get vaccinated. If persons do not want to get vaccinated, at least they should do it for those children who will die until the herd immunity threshold is reached.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Sep 20, 2021Kaieteur News – The East Bank Football Association (EBFA), Academy Training Centre (ATC) has received a time boost with two corporate entities on the East Bank Corridor partnering with the...
Sep 20, 2021
Sep 20, 2021
Sep 19, 2021
Sep 19, 2021
Sep 19, 2021
Kaieteur News – There is a part of my theorising on the class structure in Guyana in this column that is going to be... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders The public health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has rightly focused the attention and... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]