Coronavirus: Spanish study casts doubt on herd immunity feasibility

Coronavirus: Spanish study casts doubt on herd immunity feasibility

Typically, herd immunity is considered achieved when 70-90 per cent of the population achieves immunity from a disease to protect the people who are uninfected. This figure, according to officials, does not allow to speak about the development among the population herd immunity to coronavirus.

Herd immunity is hard to attain without being ready to accept the collateral damage of many deaths and overwhelmed health infrastructure, the study notes.

On the same day, Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser to the United Kingdom government, said he believed the United Kingdom would be able to achieve herd immunity.

"Despite the high impact of Covid-19 in Spain, prevalence estimates remain low and are clearly insufficient to provide herd immunity", the study's authors said in the report.

Herd immunity is achieved when enough people become immune to a virus to stop its spread. The corollary to this finding is a full 95% of Spain's population still remains susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), the virus that causes COVID-19.

It also showed a mortality rate of between 1.1 and 1.5 per cent, depending on whether officially confirmed fatalities due to Covid, or all suspected and known cases, were counted.

The Ministry of health in Spain published the results of studies showing that antibodies to COVID-19 was detected in 5.2% of the population.

The large-scale, three-phase clinical study was conducted by Spanish researchers - the largest anywhere on herd immunity - and confirms previous but smaller scale studies suggesting herd immunity from COVID-19 is a myth.

The "key finding" is that "most of the population appears to have remained unexposed" to the coronavirus, "even in areas with widespread virus circulation", Eckerle and Meyer said.

According to the Lancet's commentary authors, Isabella Eckerle, head of the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, and Benjamin Meyer, a virologist at the University of Geneva, proposals to actively seek herd immunity "not only highly unethical, but also unachievable".

This nationwide population-based study aims to estimate the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) infection in Spain at the national and regional level.

The country has started to ease its lockdown restrictions, but in the northwestern region of Galicia, officials re-imposed restrictions after an outbreak in the area. The country has the third-highest number of deaths related to population in the world, with 607 deaths per million people, according to Our World in Data.

"They're making a big assumption. young people can get the disease and won't die", Natalie Dean of the University of Florida who specializes in infectious disease epidemiology, told Business Insider.

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