Covid-19 herd immunity v. learning to live with the virus

Madhi, SA in South African Medical Journal

The findings in a nutshell

What is our end game with COVID-19 (COVID) – herd immunity, or living with COVID? Herd immunity is unlikely to happen, but vaccines are helping to protect the population against COVID-19. Reviewing UK and Israeli (both with high vaccine rates) COVID statistics, it was concluded that vaccines effectively protect against hospitalisation and death from COVID. There was also evidence that vaccines moderately protect against transmission. Knowing this, the UK removed restrictions which aimed to contain transmission and have returned to relative normalcy.

Overview of the paper

After 18 months of the COVID pandemic, it is important to consider how we will return to some sort of normalcy. This paper reviews the effectiveness of herd immunity and how living with COVID might look in the future.

Herd immunity is unlikely to materialise because COVID mutations are becoming more infectious, transmissible and relatively resistant to immunity induced by past infection, meaning there is little evidence that infections will disappear.

Reviewing the current experience of the UK and Israel, which have high rates of vaccination (greater than 85 per cent of the adult population), both have had recent increases in infections. However, the number of hospitalisations and deaths have not mirrored the growth of these new infections.. Vaccines are protecting the vaccinated population from hospitalisation and deaths. This has led the UK to continue to remain open, despite the increased infection rate.

Herd immunity is unlikely, and vaccines can protect the population against severe COVID and death.

Implications for Australian workplaces

This article demonstrates that ‘living with COVID’ may mean people continue getting infected but being vaccinated could prevent them from hospitalisation or death. We should then continue to promote and educate our staff, clients and community about the importance of getting vaccinated and how it can help Australia return to some sort of normalcy.

To find out more about Covid-19 herd immunity v. learning to live with the virus read the full article here.

Date published: August 2021

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