One of the UK’s main strategies to limit the spread of coronavirus is by building up “herd immunity”.
The UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said a degree of her immunity will help the UK population.
Herd immunity relies on people getting Covid-19, and then becoming immune to it.
Sir Patrick explained how the aim is to “reduce the peak, broaden the peak, not suppress it completely”.
He continued: “Because the vast majority of people get a mild illness, to build up some kind of her immunity so more people are immune to this disease and we reduce the transmission.”
Professor of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham, Willem van Schack, explained: “Herd immunity describes the phenomenon that at-risk individuals are protected from infection because they are surrounded by immune individuals.
“The spread of the virus is thus minimised.”
The government believe that once a sufficient number of people are immune, the disease will not spread as easily, which protects the most vulnerable in society.
However, he believes this will only happen when “approximately 60% of the population is immune”.
In the UK, that means that at least 36million people will need to be infected and recover.
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And the only way this will work is if the cases happen over a relatively long period so the NHS doesn’t get overwhelmed.
This is when working from home, not going to pubs, clubs and restaurants, and social distancing come in.
In meantime the UK wants to isolate those with underlying health conditions and everyone aged 70 or older.
Sir Patrick explained how he believes this would stop the spread of COVID-19: “Communities will become immune to it and that’s going to be an important part of controlling this longer term.
“About 60% is the sort of figure you need to get herd immunity.”
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However, according to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, herd immunity is not the government’s actual plan.
He said: “Herd immunity is not our goal or policy.”
In the press conference on Monday, March 16, Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not reiterate whether herd immunity was still what they were hoping to achieve.
- Boris Johnson
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