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What Is ‘Herd Immunity’ and How Can It Beat the Pandemic?

The Philippine government is eyeing to attain herd immunity once a COVID-19 vaccine is secured.

As the world adapts and shifts to the new normal, an end to the COVID-19 pandemic is finally in sight. Major pharmaceutical companies have discovered vaccines and some countries have already started immunization of its citizens.

In the Philippines, the government is targeting to vaccinate 75 to 80 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus disease. With that, 60 million Filipinos will be vaccinated against the disease in identified COVID “epicenters”— Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu, and Bacolod. (Read: 5 Movies That Predicted an Outbreak Like COVID-19)

As of date, the country is in negotiations with four pharmaceutical companies— Sinovac, Astra-Zeneca, Johnson and Johnson, and Pfizer. If talks will be successful, the vaccines may be secured by the second quarter of 2021, and strategies to attain herd immunity will be rolled out.

But what is herd immunity and how effective is it in fighting against the coronavirus?

Herd Immunity

Herd immunity is a concept in vaccination wherein a virus can no longer spread easily because enough people are immune to it. With this process, not every single person needs to be vaccinated to be protected, which helps ensure vulnerable groups are kept safe even without the vaccine. (Read: Prayers for Those Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic)

According to the World Health Organization, the percentage of people who need to have antibodies to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease.

A nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to care home worker Pillay Jagambrun, 61, at Croydon University Hospital in London. (Photo from Dan Charity-Pool / Getty Images / Fortune)

COVID-19 Vaccine

For COVID-19, the vast majority of people in most countries remain susceptible to the virus, and more information is needed on the immune response of those who are infected.

Moreover, future prediction on immunity is not possible until more information is gathered on how long the immunity will last— some people who got infected with the virus are reporting a second infection. (Read: COVID-19 May Cause Heart Injuries, Studies Suggest)

“While most infected people get mild or moderate forms of COVID-19 and some experience no disease, many have experienced serious complications and must be admitted to the hospital,” WHO said.

For now, research is still ongoing into how strong protection is and how long it lasts and if it will depend on the type of infection a person has: asymptomatic, mild, or severe. (Read: Asymptomatic Patients Carry Same Amount of Virus as Symptomatic Individuals, Study Claims)

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