The world may never reach herd immunity — here’s why


Leila Touati

With possibilities of the Covid-19 pandemic becoming an endemic, the world is far from the herd immunity threshold.

Leila Touati, Senior Editor

In a recent New York Times article, Andrés R. Martínez writes that the world, especially the United States, may need to learn how to live with the virus, as the hope for ‘herd immunity,’ the point where a virus does not have enough hosts to spread easily, is becoming more unlikely. 

Due to new virus variants and the second wave of COVID-19 in India, it is possible for the coronavirus to become an endemic, a disease regularly found among particular people in a certain area. 

Not enough people are getting vaccinated fast enough for us to reach herd immunity, which is a problem. Daily vaccination rates are slipping, and the need to vaccinate 12 to 15 year olds is not helping since that is nearly 17 million more people. 

“If more people would just get vaccinated we could reach herd immunity but you’re always going to have the people that are anti-vax people or don’t want to listen to science but it would be nice if it could be something like polio where we just crushed it with vaccines, but right now it’s very frustrating because it doesn’t look like we’re going to get there because so many people are refusing to get vaccinated,” said Renee Notari, microbiologist and mother of two Amador students.

Instead of promising and end to all of the COVID-19 virus, health experts are concluding that the virus will become a manageable threat for many years to come. But while the coronavirus is mutating too quickly and vaccinations are happening too slowly, the threshold for herd immunity will not be achieved.

“I believe we are going to have to live with the virus if we don’t establish herd immunity. However, the virus may become less widespread and I see a change in how we protect ourselves against the virus in later years,” said Ayushi Deokule (‘23).

Another reason why herd immunity will not be reached is that rich countries, like the United States are hoarding vaccines, while Africa and India are facing a huge vaccine shortage. The world is not getting vaccinated quickly enough for us to fully put an end to the threat of the virus.

“With this virus it’s so important to get the entire world vaccinated because if there are certain countries that the virus never gets under control in, variants are going to pop out of those countries. Because we travel so much and the US is this melting pot of people from everywhere [variants] will come here, and it seems like it’s a world away but a variant that comes up in another part of the world could end up here and affect us so we should care about the whole world getting vaccinated,” said Notari.