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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Its likely too late for herd immunity, but vaccines still vital.

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Vaccination may have missed the window for herd immunity, but it's still crucial. (via National Foundation for Cancer Research)

With Thailand finally on track to reach its vaccination goals having now administered 56 million vaccines across the nation, scientists are warning that it may be too little too late for the possibility of herd immunity. Virologist Dr Yong Poovorawan at the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University believe that herd immunity may never be achieved at this point in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Scientists still stressed the importance of vaccines and attempt to help the public understand that herd immunity and the eradication of Covid-19 are not the only advantages of vaccinations. Those who are vaccinated have a significantly lower risk of death, hospitalisation or even severe symptoms when they do contract the Covid-19 virus.

Looking at the problem with herd immunity, the viroligist points to data from the rest of the world where, by the time people got vaccinated to the point that should achieve herd immunity, new strains and breakthrough infections were poking holes in the plan.

Israel had over 60% of its population vaccinated with Pfizer by the end of February and infections and mortality rates dropped. But by July, new Covid-19 infections started rising again and booster shots were administered with many indoor venues now only permitting people who have already had Covid-19 or a third booster shot.

Singapore has also about 80% of its population vaccinated now but is still experience a surge of new infections and they have begun giving booster shots to elderly residents.

Herd immunity has been a successful way to stave off viruses and epidemics throughout history. By a child’s second birthday, 90% of those in the United States get vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella, which led to herd immunity against the diseases and, with very little virus in circulation, even those who are not vaccinated are at very low risk of infection.

But the same may not be true for Covid-19 where the virus has mutated quickly and limited the effectiveness of vaccines. Doctors now liken vaccination efforts to be similar to tetanus, an affliction that cannot be eradicated but can be well controlled with regular booster shots.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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