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Kangalee: Pandemic, yes, but is achieving herd immunity more than a pipe dream?

“[…] What bothers me, though, is how can we achieve herd immunity in the school system or in the country as a whole, when we are dealing with a pandemic which is a world-wide phenomenon? The vast majority of people on planet earth have so far had no access to testing or to vaccines.

“This is the 21st century. We have a planetary civilisation. It is impossible to achieve this much talked about herd immunity except on a planetary basis…”

The following Letter to the Editor, which looks at an issue related to pandemics and herd immunity, was submitted to Wired868 by Gerry Kangalee of Rambert Village:

Image: An infected person among healthy counterparts in masks.

In all the talk about vaccination, two things keep playing in my mind. One is the word ‘pandemic’ and the other is the phrase ‘herd immunity’.

We are reminded every hour of every day that we are in a pandemic and that we need to achieve herd immunity. What is a pandemic?

According to the American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, a pandemic is: ‘… a disease outbreak that has spread across multiple countries and continents and usually impacts many people. The classification of pandemic comes when a disease affects the global population.’

What is herd immunity? According to one definition put forward by the Mayo Clinic, ‘Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected—not just those who are immune.’

How is this herd immunity achieved? Herd immunity can be achieved through infection and through vaccination. ‘Herd immunity can be reached when enough people in the population have recovered from a disease and have developed protective antibodies against future infection.’

Photo: NCRHA health care workers send a message to the public during the Covid-19 pandemic.
(via NCRHA)

Herd immunity can also be achieved when enough people have been vaccinated against a disease and have developed protective antibodies against future infection.

It is said that the percentage of the population that needs to be immune to achieve herd immunity varies with the particular disease. Some diseases like small pox may require 95 percent of the population to be immune.

Various figures have been put forward as being required to achieve herd immunity from corona virus. A popular figure is 70 percent of the population although the figure varies. The latest one put forward by the Chief Medical Officer Roshan Parasram is 80%. This is okay because fresh data about Corona 19 is being gathered every day.

We are told that herd immunity can be achieved if a percentage of the people of T&T are vaccinated. In his latest bouff of the citizens, the Prime Minister talks about achieving herd immunity in the school system. The CMO talks about herd immunity in particular areas of the country.

While figures are put out every day about how many have been vaccinated and how many have been recorded as having recovered from the disease, we have no idea how many have been infected and have recovered because we have not engaged in widespread testing.

Photo: A police officer receives the Covid-19 vaccine.
(via TTPS)

It is stated that most people who have been infected by the virus presented no symptoms. There may be tens, even hundreds, of thousands of people who have immunity because of natural infection, but we have no way of knowing.

Another problem is that, so far, according to the Mayo Clinic, ‘It’s not clear how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from Covid-19. Even if you have antibodies, it’s possible that you could get Covid-19 again.’

What bothers me, though, is how can we achieve herd immunity in the school system or in the country as a whole, when we are dealing with a pandemic which is a world-wide phenomenon?

The vast majority of people on planet earth have so far had no access to testing or to vaccines. This is the 21st century. We have a planetary civilisation. It is impossible to achieve this much talked about herd immunity except on a planetary basis.

But achieving planetary herd immunity does not seem to be on the cards any time soon, if the behaviour of the imperialist countries is anything to go by. A planetary system based on economic, political and military domination certainly does not facilitate achievement of this objective.

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Letters to the Editor
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