New Variants Change The Herd
Even as vaccine roll-out plans face distribution and allocation hurdles, new variants of SARS-CoV-2 are sprouting up that might be more transmissible and resistant to vaccines. Were in a race with the new variants, says Sara Del Valle, a mathematical and computational epidemiologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The longer it takes to stem transmission of the virus, the more time these variants have to emerge and spread, she says.
Brazil began widespread distribution of Sinovac Biotechs CoronaVac vaccine in January.Credit: Rodrigo Paiva/Getty
Theres another problem to contend with as immunity grows in a population, Ferrari says. Higher rates of immunity can create selective pressure, which would favour variants that are able to infect people who have been immunized. Vaccinating quickly and thoroughly can prevent a new variant from gaining a foothold. But again, the unevenness of vaccine roll-outs creates a challenge, Ferrari says. Youve got a fair bit of immunity, but you still have a fair bit of disease, and youre stuck in the middle. Vaccines will almost inevitably create new evolutionary pressures that produce variants, which is a good reason to build infrastructure and processes to monitor for them, he adds.
What Percentage Of The Population Should Be Vaccinated To Achieve Herd Immunity
The percentage of people that need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity varies per disease. For measles, for example, 95% of the population needs to be vaccinated for other infectious diseases, it is lower.
The proportion of the population that should be vaccinated against COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity, and whether this can be achieved, is not known and will depend largely on how well the new vaccines work in reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
But Is One Immunity Better Than The Other
Some health experts consider vaccine-induced immunity to be better than the protection generated by the infection because it may be more robust, said Josh Michaud, associate director for global health policy at KFF.
Researchers still are figuring out whether people who were infected with the virus but experienced mild or no symptoms generated an immune response as strong as those who developed more severe reactions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites the unknowns surrounding natural immunity and the risk of getting sick again with COVID-19 as reasons for those who had the virus to get a vaccine.
“They haven’t been studied well at all yet,” said Dr. Jeff Engel, senior adviser for COVID-19 at the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, in reference to asymptomatic people. “And maybe we’re going to discover that a large group of them didn’t develop really robust immunity.”
Both types of viral protection leave room for potential breakthrough infections, Michaud said.
Neither offers “perfect immunity,” he said.
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What Is The Herd Immunity ‘magic Number’
Throughout the pandemic, health experts have tended to set the magic number for herd immunity between 50% and 70% with most, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, leaning toward the higher end of the spectrum.
“I would say 75% to 85% would have to get vaccinated if you want to have that blanket of herd immunity,” he told NPR in December.
Ali Mokdad, chief strategy officer for population health at the University of Washington, said the level of immunity needed to reach this goal can vary due to several factors.
“Nobody knows what is herd immunity for COVID-19-19 because it’s a new virus,” he said.
A recent analysis by the Wall Street research firm Fundstrat Global Advisors suggested as many as nine states were already reaching the coveted “herd immunity” status as of March 7, basing its calculations on the 60% threshold.
But the analysis was disputed. Some experts were skeptical of the 60% figure, saying the mechanics of the Fundstrat analysis were relatively sound but oversimplified.
Mokdad described using 60% as “totally wrong.” Data from other communities around the world show COVID-19 outbreaks happening at or near that level of immunity, he said. Indeed, the city of Manaus in Brazil saw cases drop for several months, then surge despite three-fourths of their residents already having had the virus.
Can Herd Immunity Really End The Covid
Herd immunity has become a quotidian in todayâs time. âWhen will the COVID-19 pandemic end?â, âIs COVID over in India?â are some of the most asked questions on Google. The virus has left the people despaired, dreaded in the hope that one day this pandemic will end, and they may resume their lives again.
Similarly, the pandemic has killed thousands of people worldwide, while millions lost their jobs, forced to sleep empty-stomach.
Education is halted, exams are either canceled or on the verge of getting canceled, children are thwarted as they have to spend most of their time in front of screens, forced to attend the classes. The online class is not only affecting their mental health but deteriorating them physically as well, as, at such a ripe age, theyâve no choice but to wear visual aids like spectacles to assist their weakening eyesight.
Coming back to our foremost topic- herd immunity, it is a form of indirect protection of humans against any disease that infects them at a rapid rate. When a sufficient amount of the population achieves an immune response against the disease, either through vaccination or pre-infections, they achieve herd immunity. It protects people prone to infection and reduces the chance of spreading the infection.
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What Will It Take To Achieve Herd Immunity With Sars
As with any other infection, there are two ways to achieve herd immunity: A large proportion of the population either gets infected or gets a protective vaccine. What we know about coronavirus so far suggests that, if we were really to go back to a pre-pandemic lifestyle, we would need at least 70% of the population to be immune to keep the rate of infection down without restrictions on activities. But this level depends on many factors, including the infectiousness of the virus and how people interact with each other.
For example, when the population reduces their level of interaction , infection rates slow down. But as society opens up more broadly and the virus mutates to become more contagious, infection rates will go up again. Since we are not currently at a level of protection that can allow life to return to normal without seeing another spike in cases and deaths, it is now a race between infection and injection.
Purchasing Of The Covid
Government will source, distribute and oversee the rollout of the vaccine. Government as the sole purchaser of vaccines will distribute it to provincial governments and the private sector.
A national register for COVID-19 vaccinations will be established. The vaccination system will be based on a pre-vaccination registration and appointment system. All those vaccinated will be placed on a national register and provided with a vaccination card.
A national rollout committee will oversee the vaccine implementation in both the public and private sectors.
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What You Need To Know
- The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, which are rare.
- As with other routine vaccines, side effects may occur after vaccination. These are normal and should go away within a few days.
- People who are fully vaccinated can resume many activities they did before the pandemic. However, people should wear a mask indoors in public if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
- If you received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccine primary series and have a moderately or severely compromised immune system, you should receive an additional primary dose of the same mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after the second dose.
- Everyone ages 16 years and older can get a booster shot.
- Unlike many medications, COVID-19 vaccine dosage does not vary by patient weight but by age on the day of vaccination.
- People can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including flu vaccine, at the same time.
How Do I Schedule My Second Dose
If you have a MyChart account with UW Medicine, you will receive a MyChart invitation to schedule your second dose appointment within 24 hours of receiving your first dose.
If you do not have a MyChart account with UW Medicine, you will receive an online scheduling link to schedule a second dose appointment for each vaccinated individual within 24 hours of receiving the first dose. The link will be sent by text or email.
If you do not receive a MyChart invitation or link, or you would prefer to schedule by phone, call from the same phone you used to join the vaccine waitlist.
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What Happens If I Dont Get My Second Dose Within The Recommended Time Frame
While it is best to get your second dose within the recommended time frame, it may not always be possible.
It is OK to receive the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines up to six weeks after the first dose. There is limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window.
But if the second dose is given late, there is no need to restart the series.
Why Herd Immunity Matters
Prior experience with respiratory pathogens that were comparable to the new coronavirus allowed public health experts to make educated estimates of what would be needed to reach the lower threshold of herd immunity for COVID-19. Initially they believed that around 70% of the population would need to be vaccinated to effectively slow or stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
But with the delta variant continuing to spread rapidly around the world, experts revised that estimate. Now, epidemiologists and other public health officials estimate that closer to 90% of the U.S. population would need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity for COVID-19.
There are several reasons it will take some time to achieve COVID-19 herd immunity. The COVID-19 vaccines are currently authorized for some age groups but not others. For perspective, roughly 90% of the U.S. population receives the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine or MMR as children, and 93% of the population is vaccinated against polio both of these have been routine childhood immunizations for decades. Since children make up more than 20% of U.S. residents, the country likely cannot reach COVID-19 herd immunity without widespread childhood vaccination, even if all eligible adults were vaccinated.
Read other short accessible explanations of newsworthy subjects written by academics in their areas of expertise for The Conversation U.S.here.
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Rethinking Herd Immunity And The Covid
In the months following the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, herd immunity was frequently cited as the long-term destination of the COVID-19 pandemic. As vaccination has rolled out, variants have emerged, and as cases surge once again, we are learning more about the nuances of SARS-CoV-2 infection and what short- and long-term immunity to this virus may look like. With this changing perspective, how should we be thinking about herd immunity?
In this Q& A, epidemiologists Gypsyamber DSouza and David Dowdy explain that herd immunity is still possible for COVID-19, but that we might need to think a bit differently about what that means in this phase of the pandemic.
What do epidemiologists mean when they talk about herd immunity?
When most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protectionalso called population immunity, herd immunity, or herd protectionto those who are not immune to the disease.
The same idea works for any infectious agent, including coronavirus. The hope is that the population can develop a high enough level of immunity to keep spread low.
Is herd immunity still an achievable goal for COVID-19?
Second, young children are still not eligible for the vaccine, and new children are born every day. So, until we get vaccines that are approved for use in all ages, there is likely to be ongoing transmission of the coronavirus in kids, who will in turn be able to infect adults, especially unvaccinated ones.
How The Koch Network Is Spreading Covid Misinformation
As the Omicron variant surges, an institute funded by the Koch network may be undermining government attempts to stop the pandemic.
Charles Koch, whose foundations are funding COVID-19 misinformation, photographed in 2007.
Our fall issue is out in print and online this month. and start reading today.
Earlier this month, as the Omicron variant began to spread, a small liberal arts school on a tree-lined campus in Michigan called Hillsdale College announced it was launching an Academy for Science and Freedom to educate the American people about the free exchange of scientific ideas and the proper relationship between freedom and science in the pursuit of truth.
The academy was inspired by the pandemic. As we reflect on the worst public health fiasco in history, our pandemic response has unveiled serious issues with how science is administered, noted the college president in a press release.
But the venture isnt exactly an effort to apply science to the COVID-19 crisis. The so-called fiasco was government pandemic measures like mask and vaccine mandates, contact tracing, and lockdowns.
Hillsdale is a conservative Christian institution with ties to the Donald Trump administration. And the scholars behind the academy Scott Atlas, Jay Bhattacharya, and Martin Kulldorff are connected to right-wing dark money attacking public health measures.
You can read this full story from Daily Poster and the Center for Media and Democracyhere.
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How Do I Correct My Covid
You may do this in one of three ways. If you were vaccinated at a health care provider, you should contact the providers office to have their immunization record verified and corrected. If you were vaccinated at a site that remains open, you can return to that site and request a correction from the clinic supervisor. If the site where you were vaccinated is now closed, you can email to request assistance.
Will We Ever Get To Herd Immunity
Yesand hopefully sooner rather than later, as vaccine manufacturing and distribution are rapidly being scaled up. In the United States, current projections are that we can get more than half of all American adults fully vaccinated by the end of Summer 2021which would take us a long way toward herd immunity, in only a few months. By the time winter comes around, hopefully enough of the population will be vaccinated to prevent another large surge like what we have seen this year. But this optimistic scenario is not guaranteed. It requires widespread vaccine uptake among all parts of the populationincluding all ages and races, in all cities, suburbs, and countrysides. Because the human population is so interconnected, an outbreak anywhere can lead to a resurgence everywhere.
This is a global concern as well. As long as there are unvaccinated populations in the world, SARS-CoV-2 will continue to spread and mutate, and additional variants will emerge. In the U.S. and elsewhere, booster vaccination may become necessary if variants arise that can evade the immune response provoked by current vaccines.
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Natural Infection Vs Vaccination
Recovering from the COVID-19 infection does offer antibodies that can help fight off future infections. However, some people believe that natural immunity is the same as vaccinated immunity. This is one of the COVID-19 myths, and heres why:
Reinfection is possible. Medical professionals are still studying how long natural immunity lasts. Even with COVID-19 antibodies, its still possible to get sick again. While you may not get as sick, youre still contagious and can infect others who may not have immunity.
Vaccines offer an alternative immunity for those who havent yet contracted COVID-19 to have antibodies. Vaccines offer the benefit of immunity without the risk of serious illness or death that comes with a natural infection. Vaccines are effective at helping reach herd immunity, as proven by contagious diseases like:
Is A Single Vaccine Dose For Vaccines Requiring Two Doses Enough For Individuals Previously Infected With Covid
Of the five COVID-19 vaccines currently authorised for use in the EU/EEA, four have a two-dose regimen:
For individuals that have recovered from a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, a number of studies indicate that a single dose of Comirnaty, Spikevax or Vaxzevria generates immune responses that are comparable – in the short term – to individuals who did not have the disease previously and who completed a two-dose regimen.
However, assessing the immune response in people in these studies typically occurs between one and four weeks after single dose vaccination, and there is not much data to compare how long protective immunity lasts for such individuals with people who have not been infected and are completing a two-dose regimen. There is also not enough data concerning protection from the Delta and Omicron variants. No evidence is currently available on the risk of laboratory-confirmed infection and symptomatic disease for previously-infected individuals receiving just one dose of vaccine intended as a two-dose regimen.
Given the current lack of evidence, as a precaution, countries should continue to administer two doses, as per EMA authorisation, particularly for older individuals and those at greatest risk of severe outcomes following SARS-CoV2 infection.
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Theres Always Going To Be A Risk
If the majority of people are safe and have herd immunity, but there are populations where the virus is allowed to continue, the risk overall is lower because there’s less virus happening, Dr. Liddell explained. So, less virus happening means fewer replications, which means fewer mutations, fewer variants. But it is still happening.
And with an infinite amount of time, even if it’s happening less, it’s still happening to that degree over time, so you’re always going to have that risk, he added.