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India is nowhere close to herd immunity, say experts as Covid graph soars


MAY 5, 2021

NEW DELHI, INDIA – MAY 04 : People wearing protective face masks wait to receive a dose of COVISHIELD, a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, at a vaccination center in New Delhi, India on May 04, 2021. (Photo by Imtiyaz Khan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

As more and more people get Covid-19 in the country with India’s Covid R rate or reproductive rate at 1.44, questions are being raised about whether we are arriving at herd immunity. So are we?

Experts weigh in on the swathes of Indian population, young and old who are down with Covid-19. The exposure to the infection to SARS CoV 2 is at an all time high with the Reproductive rate at a shocking 1.44% of the population which means one infected patient is infecting one and a half people. But are we headed towards herd immunity?


Herd immunity is when a high enough proportion of the population is vaccinated against a disease, or has been infected with a disease and developed antibodies against it. Anyone infected person will then have the opportunity to infect lesser susceptible people, thus halting the spread.


Sero surveys across cities in India have shown a high exposure to infection but experts believe that it is not translating to herd immunity. Delhi had shown extreme exposure to Covid-19 at levels safe to say that the population was reaching herd immunity but that wasn’t the case.

“In the sero survey done, it appeared that 50-60% of the population had developed antibodies. By that logic, it could have been said that the population has developed herd immunity, but that clearly isn’t the case,” Dr Randeep Guleria, Director of AIIMS told India Today TV.

“We need to take sero surveys with a pinch of salt,” he added.


In fact, the last sero survey done in India shows that more than 21% of India’s adult population has been exposed to Covid-19.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) noted that 21.4% of 28,589 people surveyed above 18 years of age showed exposure to the virus. But it also added that a large part of the population is still vulnerable to Covid-19. This means that we are still far from herd immunity.

“Herd immunity is an elusive concept as of now. Most countries have seen multiples waves, some even 3 or 4 waves. What we need to ensure is that we have battle-ready work force that can mount its response whenever there is a wave affecting the country. Vaccination is the only weapon and we should not assume that people will get herd immunity after infection,” said Professor Giridhar Babu, Epidemiologist, Public Health Foundation of India.

Worst, the virus is changing its form and experts feel that there should be no reliance on herd immunity from widespread infection. That could lead to reinfection but that is “not as widespread in India,” Dr. Randeep Guleria told India Today.

Follow the government’s latest travel advice if you are planning a trip outside India or travelling back to India from affected areas. You can also read World Health Organization’s advice on basic protective measures against the virus. WHO has also busted some myths surrounding coronavirus. The Ministry of Health’s special helpline is available at +91-11-23978046 and ncov2019@gmail.com.

Courtesy/Source: India Today