Highlights:

  • The scientists estimated that a vaccination rate of about 70% is needed for herd immunity.
  • Speaking on the event, Dr. Swaminathan informed that despite vaccinating, it is unlikely to achieve any levels of herd immunity.

On Monday, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist  Dr. Soumya Swaminathan warned that despite numerous countries that start rolling out vaccination programs to stop COVID-19, herd immunity is highly unlikely to observe this year. “Even as vaccines start protecting the most vulnerable, we are not going to achieve any levels of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021,” Swaminathan added.

Since the previous weeks, many countries such as Britain, France, the US, Germany, Italy have started vaccinating their citizens against the COVID-19 vaccine. However, speaking on the event, Dr. Swaminathan informed that despite vaccinating it is unlikely to achieve any levels of herd immunity. “Even if it happens in a couple of pockets, in a few countries, it’s not going to protect people across the world,” she added. 

Reportedly, the scientists estimated that a vaccination rate of about 70% is needed for herd immunity, where entire populations are protected against a disease. However, a few fear that the extremely infectious nature of COVID-19 could require a significantly higher threshold.

An adviser to WHO’s director-general, Dr. Bruce Aylward mentioned that the UN health agency was hoping coronavirus vaccinations might begin later this month or in February in some of the world’s poorer countries, calling on the global community to do more to ensure all countries have access to vaccines. He added that WHO needed the cooperation of vaccine manufacturers, in particular, to start immunizing vulnerable populations.

The UN-backed initiative known as COVAX, which is aiming to deliver shots to developing countries is short of vaccines, money and logistical help as donor countries scramble to protect their own citizens, particularly in the wake of newly detected COVID-19 variants in Britain and South Africa, which many officials are blaming for increased spread. WHO, however, said that most of the recent spikes in transmission were due to “the increased mixing of people” rather than the new variants.

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