We Might Not Reach Herd Immunity, And That’s Okay

Covid-19 vaccination may become akin to the flu shot

Since the beginning of the pandemic, reaching herd immunity has always been the holy grail. The term refers to the point at which a disease can’t spread in a population because most people are immune. Widespread vaccination, in theory, could help get us there, but as Sarah Zhang writes in The Atlantic, it is a point we may never reach with Covid-19.

The pandemic has been complicated by the emergence of variants, which may chip away at broad immunity conferred by vaccination. The vaccines protect against severe disease and can help prevent the conditions in which new variants can evolve, but they aren’t perfect: It’s still not known how much they can protect against transmission. The global rollout of vaccines is also far from ideal because it is so lopsided. “Right now, wealthy countries have largely bought out the vaccine supply,” Zhang notes.

These and other factors may mean herd immunity is never reached.

“We likely won’t cross the threshold of herd immunity,” writes Zhang. “We won’t have zero Covid-19 in the U.S. And global eradication is basically a pipe dream. But life with the coronavirus will look a lot more normal.”

Read more in The Atlantic:

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