Has UK reached herd immunity threshold to prevent 2nd wave?

Modesto Morganelli
Luglio 19, 2020

A woman walks by a closed store, in London, Thursday, July 16, 2020.

A paper by Oxford University researchers suggests that the United Kingdom population may already have developed sufficient levels of herd immunity required to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The paper, titled "The impact of host resistance on cumulative mortality and the threshold of herd immunity for SARS-CoV-2", is pending peer review and is now online on a preprint server.

In the study, Gupta and her three other colleagues at Oxford University have come to the conclusion that the level of herd immunity is already so high in the United Kingdom that seasonal infections, such as common cold, they can stop the outbreak of the deadly corona virus.

"It is widely believed that the herd immunity threshold (HIT) required to prevent a resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is in excess of 50 per cent for any epidemiological setting". "To fully understand population level immunity, screening for both antibody and T cell immunity using standardized testing methods would be beneficial", Altmann and Boyton conclude, noting that standardized tests to measure T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 could be designed using methods in common with established tests for T cell immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Importantly, the team showed that patients who recovered from SARS 17 years ago after the 2003 outbreak, still possess virus-specific memory T cells and displayed cross-immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

The new theory, which is yet to be peer-reviewed and analysed, suggests that when resistant people mix with non-resistant people, the herd immunity "threshold" drops sharply. "These results help to explain the large degree of regional variation observed in seroprevalence and cumulative deaths and suggest that sufficient herd-immunity may already be in place to substantially mitigate a potential second wave", it says.

Associate Professor Jenny Low, Senior Consultant, Department of Infectious Diseases, SGH, and Duke-NUS' EID program said, "While there have been many studies about SARS-CoV-2, there is still a lot we don't understand about the virus yet". Scientists tested them and found the presence of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in all of them.

The Indian Express is now on Telegram.

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