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Herd immunity won’t happen in 2021, even with vaccines, WHO warns

The World Health Organization warned that herd immunity likely won’t happen in 2021

Officials have called for the country to reach herd immunity. It’s possible to lose it, though
The World Health Organization warned that herd immunity likely won’t happen in 2021
Peter Hamlin, Associated Press

The World Health Organization warned that herd immunity likely won’t happen in 2021, which suggests requests to social distance might extend through the rest of the year, according to multiple reports.

What’s going on?

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, said people may need to practice social distancing for the rest of the year since the world won’t hit herd immunity by the end of 2021, CNN reports.

Herd immunity happens when the majority of a population becomes immune to a virus because they were either infected or vaccinated.

  • “Because even as vaccines start protecting the most vulnerable, we are not going to achieve any level of population immunity, or herd immunity in 2021 and even if it happens in a couple of pockets in a few countries, it’s not going to protect people across the world,” Swaminathan said, according to The Associated Press.

Masks and social distancing will be advised until this happens.

  • “The vaccines are going to come. They are going to go to all countries, but meanwhile we mustn’t forget that there are measures that work and ... it’s really important to remind people, both governments as well as individuals, on the responsibilities and the measures that we continue to need to practice ... for the next ... well for the rest of this year at least,” she said.

Vaccine rollout:

Of course, some of this has to do with getting the vaccines out to the entire world. But that’s easier said than done. In fact, 1 in 4 people across the world won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine until 2022, as I wrote about for the Deseret News.

That number comes from a new analysis, which was published in the BMJ, that said high-income countries have reserved about 51% of the 7.5 billion doses of different COVID-19 vaccines. But these countries only represent 14% of the world’s population, leaving plenty of countries without access to the vaccines.