The human body naturally produces antibodies to fight off microbial infections. Could the world use that to their advantage against Covid-19?
Allowing the vast majority of the population to become infected with Covid-19 will quickly lead to herd immunity, where less people will become sick later on.
Fact or Fiction?
What You Need to Know:
The term herd immunity refers to the protection of populations against infectious diseases after the majority have become immune due to either previous infection or vaccination.
In theory, these immune members of society will create barriers between those who are infected and those who are not immune and help slow the spread of a disease, eventually to the point that it is all but gone.
This theory is the basis for many people, including many world leaders, who have explored the idea of herd immunity eventually protecting populations from large, pandemic-level outbreaks that are currently taking place.
While herd immunity has worked against previously devastating diseases, such as measles and smallpox, success was dependent on the development of a vaccine against the disease. While natural immunity provided some protection from the spread, the level was far too low to be effective. Once vaccination was available, the number of those immune quickly increased and stopped the spread.
There are many human trials currently underway around the world, testing possible Covid-19 vaccinations. However, the timeline for development and eventual availability of a safe vaccine is uncertain, with many experts saying that we are likely years away from that breakthrough.
A recent study looking at over 60,000 people in Spain, one of many European countries hit hard by the coronavirus, found that only about 5% of the population had developed the necessary antibodies to fight off infection. Despite the large spread in many urban areas like Madrid, the body’s “memory” of the disease appears to be short-lived, with immune response fading quickly after infection and recovery.
Given Covid-19’s high rate of mortality and reinfections appearing to be possible, allowing the disease to spread in the hopes that those who recover will be immune and lead to a natural herd immunity seems to be highly irresponsible and almost guaranteed to fail.