Herd Immunity Won’t Happen in 2021 Despite COVID-19 Vaccines, WHO Warns

Top scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that herd immunity will not take place this year despite the administration of COVID-19 vaccines in several countries.

Top scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that herd immunity will not take place this year despite the administration of COVID-19 vaccines in several countries.

“We are not going to achieve any levels of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021,” WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said at a briefing in Geneva last Jan. 11.

“Even if it happens in a couple of pockets in a few countries, it’s not going to protect people across the world,” Swaminathan added, stressing that measures like physical distancing, wearing masks, and hand washing continue to be necessary to curb the spread of the virus.

“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,” Swaminathan said.

WHO Outbreak Alert and Response Network Chairman Dale Fisher echoed Swaminathan’s remarks at a separate conference, warning that “we won’t get back to normal quickly.”

“We know we need to get to herd immunity and we need that in a majority of countries, so we are not going to see that in 2021. There might be some countries that might achieve it but even then that will not create ‘normal’ especially in terms of border controls,” Fisher said.

Swaminathan also commended the “incredible progress” of scientists for developing several COVID-19 vaccines in less than a year, but she also admitted that the rollout of the vaccines “does take time,” calling for the public to be “a little patient.”

“It takes time to scale the production of doses, not just in the millions, but here we are talking about in the billions,” Swaminathan said.

Several countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, have begun administering vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford University-AstraZeneca, and Moderna.


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