Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Is Herd Immunity And Can It Control The Coronavirus Pandemic?

Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Is Herd Immunity And Can It Control The Coronavirus Pandemic?

As the world grapples to find ways to end the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increasing discourse on pursuing herd immunity to overcome the disease. Here is what is herd immunity
What Is Herd Immunity And Can It Control The Coronavirus Pandemic?Is developing herd immunity really a remedy to COVID-19 or is it a risky way of handling the pandemic that can even backfire? Experts explain
Highlights
  • Herd immunity can be achieved through vaccination or getting infected: WHO
  • At least 60% of the population must become immune
  • In absence of a vaccine, herd Immunity can be dangerous: Experts

New Delhi: The current COVID-19 pandemic is still expanding its reach even though most countries across the world have restrictions in place including strict lockdowns and social distancing norms to cut down the spread of the virus. Based on what experts know about the novel coronavirus, can a phenomenon called ‘herd immunity’ be an answer to this crisis? The United Kingdom and the Netherlands were the first countries to take herd immunity approach in dealing with COVID-19. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that “herd immunity” strategy is experimental at best and dangerous at worst. National health organisations like National Institute of Epidemiology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) have also highlighted that this process could harm a large number of individuals. The UK has now given up on its herd immunity building approach.

Also Read: Coronavirus Explainer: Why Is A Lockdown Important?

NDTV spoke to some experts to understand what is this phenomenon and what role can it play, if at all, in overcoming the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

According to Dr. Ambarish Dutta, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) Bhubaneswar, herd immunity is a uniform amount of immunity that at least 60 per cent of the population in a community, in case of COVID-19, must develop to slow down the spread of infection. He said,

When enough of the population is resistant to a germ, its spread stops naturally because not enough people are able to transmit it.

How Can A Country Achieve Herd Immunity?

According to Dr. Dutta, herd immunity can be achieved in two ways. The first way is through mass vaccinations, which for COVID-19, is still under development. The second way is through the infection which means that a person gets infected and after a while, they develop antibodies to fight the infection and thus become immune to it. Since currently, the vaccine for COVID-19 is absent; countries around the globe like, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden and Holland are experimenting with the second method.

Elaborating on the phenomenon, Dr. Rakesh Sahay, Endocrinologist and Diabetologist, and Professor at Osmania Medical College in Hyderabad, said that there are a large number of people who are asymptomatic – who show no symptoms at all or have just mild symptoms like mild fever, mild cough. Most of these people will recover from the virus without getting hospitalized, he said. This will contribute to increasing the herd immunity, Dr. Sahay added. He said,

Once a lot of people develop the infection, about 80 per cent of them have mild symptoms but they overcome the virus and develop immunity. This happens as Immunoglobulin M (IgM) levels increase in their body initially and then Immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels. IgM is mainly found in blood and is the first antibody that the body makes when it fights a new infection. IgE is normally found in small amounts in the blood but the number may be higher when the body overreacts to allergens or is fighting an infection from a parasite. This immunity helps in preventing re-infections and when a large extent of the population develops this immunity then the risk of new infection or cases decrease.

Also Read: COVID-19 Outbreak: Why Are Asymptomatic Patients, A Worry For India? Doctors Explain 

Risks Involved in building herd immunity through infections

While it may prove to be effective in the long run, shooting for herd immunity right away would be a dangerous strategy especially because there is no vaccination, according to experts. This is because a large number of people will become severely ill causing a sudden boom in sick people needing hospital or ICU (Intensive Care Unit) care, ventilators or oxygen support which will overwhelm the healthcare system of the country.

Dr. Dutta pointed out that the effectiveness of herd immunity approach for a country will depend on the structure of the population of that country. He said,

In India, the dominating population is of youth. Young people are generally healthier with a stronger immune system than the elderlies. They can fight with the infection and build immunity against it in a much faster way. This is true with any kinds of viral infection. However, in Europe, much of the population is older because of which these countries there have experienced more severity and more fatality as far as COVID-19 is concerned. Since the immunity is low among most of the population, depending on herd-immunity through infection is not a wise step considering the gravity of the pandemic. Great Britain tried herd-immunity, it failed very badly.

Earlier in a tweet, Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal ‘The Lancet’, also said that the British government is “playing roulette with the public”.

Dr. Dutta added that countries like Sweden and Holland are also trying herd immunity. They are not discouraging the younger population from moving around. These countries, as per Dr. Dutta are taking the risk of letting the youngsters get the infection so that they can become immune to it, assuming that they have a strong immune system. However, he highlighted that there is no guarantee that they will not get severely ill or there will not be any long term effect on their body due to the infection or when they come home, they will not infect the older people in the house. Denmark is another country that is gearing up to go the ‘herd-immunity path’ and ease the lockdown currently imposed.

He said,

We don’t know enough about the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV 2. There is a lack of evidence around the science of this virus. Thus the immunology for the virus is also not known yet.

WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a media briefing has also emphasized on not easing the lockdown restrictions as only a tiny proportion of the global population, maybe as few as 2 per cent or 3 per cent, appears to have antibodies against coronavirus.

The experts recommend that while the social distancing norms must remain enforced, the health authorities and policymakers should be cautious about herd immunity as there is no shortcut and the country should ideally try to achieve herd immunity through vaccination.

Also Read: Nutrition And COVID-19: Drink Ample Water, Eat Unprocessed Food, Advises WHO To Lower Risks Of Infections

World

5,86,14,614Cases
1,97,37,336Active
3,74,90,171Recovered
13,87,107Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 191 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 5,86,14,614 and 13,87,107 have died; 1,97,37,336 are active cases and 3,74,90,171 have recovered as on November 23, 2020 at 3:52 am.

India

91,39,865 44059Cases
4,43,486 2524Active
85,62,641 41024Recovered
1,33,738 511Deaths
In India, there are 91,39,865 confirmed cases including 1,33,738 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,43,486 and 85,62,641 have recovered as on November 23, 2020 at 2:30 am.

State & District Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
DistrictCases
Mumbai45,478
Thane13,660
Pune9,920
Mumbai Suburban5,363
Aurangabad1,974
Nashik1,575
Raigad1,462
Palghar1,421
Solapur1,291
Jalgaon1,039
Akola757
Nagpur692
Kolhapur646
Satara629
Ratnagiri350
Amravati291
Dhule228
Hingoli208
Jalna201
Ahmednagar190
Nanded176
Yavatmal150
Sangli145
Latur139
Osmanabad125
Sindhudurg114
Buldhana88
Parbhani78
gondia69
Beed54
Nandurbar42
Gadchiroli42
Bhandara41
Chandrapur32
Washim13
Wardha11

17,80,208 5,753

82,521 1,643

16,51,064 4,060

46,623 50

DistrictCases
Udupi1,176
Kalaburagi669
Yadgir538
Bengaluru Urban529
Raichur369
Mandya346
Belagavi337
Bidar219
Hassan205
Davangere204
Vijayapura201
Dakshina Kannada179
Chikkaballapura149
Mysuru107
Bagalkote103
Uttara Kannada95
Shivamogga67
Dharwad61
Ballari60
Gadag45
Bengaluru Rural40
Tumakuru36
Kolar29
Haveri24
Chikkamagaluru19
Chitradurga14
Koppal5
Kodagu4
Ramanagara3
Chamarajanagara0

8,73,046 1,704

24,887 154

8,36,505 1,537

11,654 13

DistrictCases
Kurnool795
Krishna557
Guntur511
Anantapur428
East Godavari356
Chittoor319
Sri Potti Sriramulu Nell*296
Y.S.R.205
West Godavari199
Srikakulam183
Prakasam104
Visakhapatnam103
Vizianagaram23

8,62,213 1,121

14,249 521

8,41,026 1,631

6,938 11

DistrictCases
Chennai23,324
Chengalpattu1,314
Thiruvallur774
Villupuram509
Kanchipuram503
Tiruvannamalai496
Cuddalore477
Ariyalur444
Tirunelveli433
Tuticorin333
Kallakurichi324
Madurai322
Salem258
Coimbatore188
Virudhunagar185
Dindigul175
Perambalur133
Ranipet133
Thanjavur130
Theni129
Tiruchirappalli119
Ramanathapuram119
Tiruppur116
Kanniyakumari110
Tenkasi103
Nagapattinam99
Karur88
Namakkal83
Erode75
Vellore71
Thiruvarur67
Pudukkottai53
Sivaganga46
Tirupathur45
Krishnagiri43
The Nilgiris17
Dharmapuri15

7,69,995 1,655

12,542 374

7,45,848 2,010

11,605 19

DistrictCases
Kannur357
Kasaragod333
Palakkad224
Malappuram119
Kollam118
Thrissur106
Thiruvananthapuram104
Pathanamthitta98
Kozhikode90
Alappuzha76
Kottayam73
Ernakulam60
Idukki40
Wayanad36

5,62,695 5,254

65,982 1,000

4,94,664 6,227

2,049 27

DistrictCases
North West5,463
Central4,817
West4,768
New Delhi3,405
North3,059
East2,472
South East2,446
South West2,391
South2,329
North East1,914
Shahdara1,580

5,29,863 6,746

40,212 471

4,81,260 6,154

8,391 121

DistrictCases
Gautam Buddha Nagar1,119
Agra933
Ghaziabad794
Meerut504
Lucknow386
Saharanpur298
Kanpur Nagar286
Moradabad252
Varanasi243
Hapur225
Aligarh215
Basti214
Amethi206
Rampur203
Jaunpur194
Firozabad190
Barabanki168
Gorakhpur166
Bulandshahr166
Siddharth Nagar159
Ghazipur159
Bijnor157
Deoria143
Azamgarh138
Sant Kabeer Nagar132
Mathura129
Ayodhya120
Muzaffarnagar117
Sambhal116
Sultanpur97
Ambedkar Nagar92
Maharajganj85
Amroha80
Rae Bareli78
Bahraich73
Kheri72
Kannauj69
Baghpat68
Kushi Nagar67
Bhadohi60
Ballia60
Gonda59
Etah52
Hardoi49
Balrampur49
Mau48
Mainpuri46
Etawah46
Hathras43
Unnao42
Jalaun41
Jhansi41
Shamli40
Chandauli38
Auraiya37
Farrukhabad36
Sitapur32
Prayagraj30
Banda27
Shahjahanpur25
Shravasti23
Budaun23
Mirzapur22
Bareilly17
Kasganj16
Pratapgarh15
Pilibhit15
Sonbhadra10
Kaushambi6
Kanpur Dehat4
Chitrakoot4
Lalitpur3
Hamirpur3
Mahoba3
Fatehpur3

5,26,780 2,557

23,806 335

4,95,415 2,187

7,559 35

DistrictCases
Kolkata2,777
Howrah1,435
24 Paraganas North1,031
Hooghly604
24 Paraganas South281
Maldah235
Dinajpur Uttar216
Coochbehar210
Birbhum206
Medinipur West159
Medinipur East153
Nadia139
Purba Bardhaman130
Murshidabad125
Bankura116
Darjeeling97
Jalpaiguri88
Paschim Bardhaman70
Purulia66
Dinajpur Dakshin50
Alipurduar39
Kalimpong18
Jhargram9

4,56,361 3,591

25,207 184

4,23,129 3,726

8,025 49

DistrictCases
Ganjam581
Jajapur322
Khordha238
Baleshwar190
Kendrapara164
Cuttack155
Bhadrak137
Balangir129
Puri103
Sundargarh102
Jagatsinghapur91
Nayagarh86
Mayurbhanj73
Nuapada69
Gajapati61
Dhenkanal36
Boudh34
Kendujhar34
Deogarh33
Kalahandi33
Sonepur29
Kandhamal28
Anugul26
Malkangiri20
Bargarh16
Koraput16
Sambalpur16
Jharsuguda8
Nabarangpur2
Rayagada2

3,13,961 638

6,508 282

3,05,813 905

1,640 15

DistrictCases
Hyderabad2,475
Ranga Reddy183
Suryapet87
Jagitial77
Nizamabad76
MedchalMalkajgiri75
Mancherial43
YadadriBhuvanagiri40
Jogulamba Gadwal40
Vikarabad40
Nalgonda33
Warangal Urban32
Mahabubnagar30
Sangareddy26
Khammam26
Adilabad22
Nirmal21
Karimnagar17
RajannaSircilla16
Medak11
Kamareddy11
Mahabubabad10
Jayashankar Bhupalapally9
Nagarkurnool8
Kumuram Bheem Asifabad8
Jangoan8
Siddipet7
Peddapalli5
Bhadradri Kothagudem5
Warangal Rural4
Mulugu3
Narayanpet3
Wanaparthy1

2,64,128 602

11,227 416

2,51,468 1,015

1,433 3

DistrictCases
Jaipur2,177
Jodhpur1,748
Udaipur724
Bharatpur563
Kota503
Nagaur500
Ajmer379
Dungarpur374
Pali352
Jhalawar329
Bhilwara250
Sikar231
Chittorgarh188
Tonk171
Jalore164
Rajsamand140
Sirohi130
Bikaner112
Banswara91
Alwar90
Churu81
Jhunjhunu64
Dausa61
Dholpur60
Baran59
Jaisalmer53
Barmer34
Hanumangarh31
SawaiMadhopur26
Karauli17
Pratapgarh14
Ganganagar8
Bundi5

2,43,936 3,260

23,190 1,239

2,18,583 2,004

2,163 17

DistrictCases
Patna279
Bhagalpur266
Rohtas256
Khagaria253
Begusarai243
Madhubani199
Munger188
Jehanabad178
Katihar175
Darbhanga143
Samastipur139
Siwan139
PurbiChamparan138
Purnia135
Banka134
Buxar134
Nalanda123
Gopalganj123
Nawada122
Sheikhpura118
Gaya115
Kaimur (bhabua)105
Bhojpur103
Saran101
Muzaffarpur96
Saharsa88
Supaul87
Vaishali87
Madhepura82
Kishanganj75
Aurangabad75
Sitamarhi73
Lakhisarai72
Araria68
Pashchim Champaran57
Arwal52
Jamui47
Sheohar20

2,29,544 367

4,839 243

2,23,484 605

1,221 5

DistrictCases
Bilaspur100
Korba100
Mungeli87
Baloda Bazar85
Jashpur77
Janjgir-Champa56
Mahasamund54
Rajnandgaon52
Kabirdham52
Raigarh47
Raipur46
Balod41
Korea39
Durg31
Bemetara21
Kanker19
Balrampur17
Surguja14
Gariyaband10
Surajpur9
Dhamtari6
Bijapur2
Bastar2
Dantewada0
Kondagaon0
Narayanpur0
Sukma0

2,23,436 1,748

21,393 734

1,99,311 995

2,732 19

DistrictCases
Gurugram2,950
Faridabad867
Sonipat404
Rohtak145
Palwal120
Jhajjar114
Karnal104
Hisar98
Ambala93
Panipat78
Nuh68
Bhiwani60
Rewari56
Kurukshetra55
Sirsa50
Kaithal48
Mahendragarh47
CharkiDadri43
Panchkula39
Fatehabad38
Jind38
Yamunanagar19

2,17,300 2,279

20,344 19

1,94,768 2,235

2,188 25

DistrictCases
Kamrup Metro276
Golaghat203
Nagaon143
Hojai89
Dima Hasao86
Karimganj85
Tinsukia84
Cachar80
Dibrugarh61
Hailakandi57
Lakhimpur57
Marigaon50
Dhemaji47
Kamrup42
Kokrajhar37
Dhubri30
Charaideo29
Barpeta28
Udalguri28
Sonitpur27
Jorhat24
Nalbari23
Darrang20
Sivasagar20
Goalpara19
Biswanath16
Baksa14
KarbiAnglong13
Bongaigaon12
Chirang6
West KarbiAnglong5
South SalmaraMancachar4
Majuli2

2,11,513 86

3,142 90

2,07,397 175

974 1

DistrictCases
Ahmadabad17,125
Surat2,311
Vadodara1,555
Gandhinagar410
Mahesana159
Banas Kantha147
Bhavnagar146
Rajkot135
Arvalli134
Mahisagar125
Anand107
PanchMahals107
Patan105
SabarKantha101
Kachchh99
Kheda98
Jamnagar63
Bharuch56
Botad55
Surendranagar55
Valsad47
GirSomnath45
Dohad43
Chhotaudepur37
Naysari35
Junagadh31
Narmada25
DevbhumiDwarka22
Amreli16
Porbandar11
Tapi6
Dang5
Morbi4

1,97,412 1,495

13,600 315

1,79,953 1,167

3,859 13

DistrictCases
Indore3,839
Bhopal1,880
Ujjain799
Burhanpur351
Neemuch319
Jabalpur276
East Nimar266
Sagar228
Gwalior211
Khargone196
Dewas140
Dhar132
Mandsaur112
Morena109
Bhind87
Raisen71
Barwani60
Ratlam51
Rewa39
Shajapur39
Hoshangabad37
Vidisha37
Chhatarpur35
Betul35
Rajgarh31
Dindori29
Sheopur26
Damoh26
Satna24
Anuppur22
Panna20
Tikamgarh18
Sidhi17
Narsinghpur17
Chhindwara16
Agar Malwa15
Mandla15
Shivpuri15
Jhabua14
Shandol14
Singrauli13
Ashoknagar13
Datia12
Sehore12
Umaria10
Balaghat9
Guna8
Harda4
Alirajpur3
Katni3
Seoni2
Niwari0

1,93,044 1,798

11,765 573

1,78,117 1,212

3,162 13

DistrictCases
Amritsar485
Jalandhar297
Ludhiana293
Tarn Taran163
Gurdaspur154
Hoshiarpur140
S.A.S Nagar137
Patiala132
Sangrur107
Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshahr)99
Pathankot86
Rupnagar (Ropar)74
Faridkot74
Sri Muktsar Sahib71
Moga65
Bathinda60
Fatehgarh Sahib57
Fazilka53
Firozepur50
Kapurthala44
Mansa31
Barnala25

1,46,346 679

6,724 163

1,35,008 497

4,614 19

DistrictCases
East Singhbum170
Ranchi148
Hazaribagh110
Garhwa80
Ramgarh75
Koderma58
Simdega48
Dhanbad32
Gumla28
Palamu27
West Singhbhum21
SaraikelaKharsawan20
Giridih19
Bokaro16
Latehar14
Khunti10
Lohardaga8
Deoghar5
Dumka5
Pakur4
Jamtara2
Godda2
Chatra1
Sahebganj0

1,07,469 137

2,289 141

1,04,229 272

951 6

DistrictCases
Anantnag395
Srinagar300
Kulgam295
Baramulla271
Shopian255
Kupwara231
Bandipora175
Udhampur155
Ramban151
Jammu138
Budgam110
Pulwama108
Kathua53
Rajouri39
Ganderbal37
Poonch35
Doda27
Reasi26
Samba25
Kishtwar10
Mirpur0
Muzaffarabad0

1,06,548 564

5,700 20

99,219 579

1,629 5

DistrictCases
Dehradun370
Nainital323
Tehri Garhwal110
Haridwar94
Udam Singh Nagar83
Almora71
Champawat45
Pithoragarh43
Chamoli36
PauriGarhwal36
Bageshwar31
Rudraprayag30
Uttar Kashi24

71,256 466

4,368 286

65,733 171

1,155 9

DistrictCases
South Goa69
North Goa57

46,826 78

1,170 91

44,979 167

677 2

DistrictCases
Pondicherry111
Mahe4
Karaikal2
Yanam0

36,693 45

559 43

35,525 88

609

DistrictCases
Hamirpur117
Kangra105
Una41
Solan32
Chamba29
Bilaspur21
Mandi21
Sirmaur11
Shimla10
Kullu4
Kinnaur2
Lahaul And Spiti0

34,327 627

7,034 36

26,756 644

537 19

DistrictCases
Dhalai196
Sepahijala174
Gomati74
South Tripura53
Unakoti49
West Tripura45
Khowai24
North Tripura14

32,434 19

796 74

31,269 90

369 3

DistrictCases
Churachandpur32
Kangpokpi26
Imphal West21
Thoubal18
Imphal East10
Tengnoupal9
Bishnupur7
Senapati6
Chandel5
Kamjong5
Ukhrul4
Jiribam3
Pherzawl3
Kakching2
Tamenglong2
Noney1

23,400 382

3,146 174

20,018 205

236 3

DistrictCases
Chandigarh313

16,671 80

1,094 41

15,317 119

260 2

DistrictCases
Changlang31
Papum Pare8
Lohit3
Namsai2
West Siang1
East Siang1
Upper Siang1
Tawang1
PakkeKessang1
West Kameng0
Upper Subansiri0
Tirap0
Siang0
Shi Yomi0
Anjaw0
Lower Subansiri0
Lower Dibang Valley0
Longding0
Leparada0
KurungKumey0
KraDaadi0
Kamle0
East Kameng0
Dibang Valley0
Lower Siang0

16,061 24

1,040 11

14,972 35

49

DistrictCases
East Khasi Hills22
West Garo Hills5
South West Garo Hills4
North Garo Hills1
West Jaintia Hills1
West Khasi Hills1
East Garo Hills0
East Jaintia Hills0
Ribhoi0
South Garo Hills0
South West Khasi Hills0

11,339 70

894 31

10,335 99

110 2

DistrictCases
Dimapur20
Mon8
Kohima7
Kiphire3
Tuensang3
Peren2
Phek1
Longleng0
Mokokchung0
Wokha0
Zunheboto0

10,777 103

1,410 35

9,308 66

59 2

DistrictCases
Kargil77
LehLadakh43

7,939 73

928 16

6,911 55

100 2

DistrictCases
East District3
South District3
North District0
West District0

4,722 31

278 11

4,345 41

99 1

DistrictCases
South Andamans33
Nicobars1
North And Middle Andaman1

4,641 10

140 2

4,440 12

61

DistrictCases
Kolasib11
Aizawl10
Mamit8
Lawngtlai2
Lunglei2
Saitual1
Champhai0
Hnahthial0
Khawzawl0
Saiha0
Serchhip0

3,660 13

463 22

3,192 35

5

DistrictCases
Dadra And Nagar Haveli20

3,321 4

39 0

3,280 4

2

DistrictCases
Lakshadweep District0

0

0 0

0

0

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