The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the whole world inside out. To protect ourselves from this deadly virus, necessary norms have been implemented by the government. Social distancing, limiting outings, wearing masks, and sanitizing your hands as many times as possible.
The whole world is racing to find a vaccine for this virus, research and testings are in full swing. Scientists all over the world are trying extremely with tactics that might help the public become immune to the virus and bring things back to how they were before COVID happened.
There are always two schools of thought when it comes down to fighting a virus, one is to stay in and protect your immunity from the virus and the other concept is known as herd immunity. Herd immunity is the approach taken to weaken the virus by exposing more percentage of the population to it. It is a form of indirect protection from infectious diseases
One way of experimenting with herd immunity would be to reopen schools and colleges, Elaborating on this, Dr Amitav Banerjee, Professor & Head Community Medicine, Dr DY Patil Medical College, Pune commented, “If we choose to open schools and colleges once the curve stabilises, there are very strong chances that we will be able to achieve herd immunity. Children and young adults have fresh immunity, which makes them better prepared to fight infections. It has a multiplier effect- if we develop it, we can protect many people. If we study USA data, 24 districts in the USA do not have a single child fatality.”
“The mean age & Body Mass Index (BMI) has been an important factor in the number of deaths. Recent CDC update mentions that obesity is a major risk factor for fatality from the Covid-19 virus. Japan never had a lockdown and despite having a higher mean age there were very few fatalities, which reconfirm CDC findings”, Dr Banerjee added.
The idea behind achieving herd immunity, as simple as it may sound, is quite complex in terms of achievement. Explaining how exactly herd immunity is achieved, Dr. Sanjay K. Rai, Professor, Centre of Community Medicine, AIIMS New Delhi explained.
The idea behind achieving herd immunity may sound simple but is quite complex while explaining how herd immunity could be achieved, Dr. Sanjay K. Rai, Professor, Centre of Community Medicine, AIIMS New Delhi explained, “there are two basic ways of achieving herd immunity- by developing a vaccine, and by exposure to infection. Since there is no possible way of knowing by when we can find a vaccine and how effective it will be, the only other alternative is through infection.”
Opening schools and colleges, right now, seems like a bizarre idea that will only put the future of the country’s youth at a risk. However, at this gloomy period of life, Dr. Rai finds a silver lining, “If schools and colleges go back to functioning in full swing, keeping in mind distancing and sanitisation norms, there is a possibility that sooner or later, everyone will get exposed. Children have fresh immunity, and they can be major contributors to us achieving herd immunity. The process is quite complex, though- careful interpretation and increase in testing are vital for it to be successful.”
Dr Chandrakant S Pandav, Former HoD, Center of Community Medicine, said, “Lockdown may not be the ultimate solution to fight COVID 19. It may delay the infection but cannot protect us forever. There are multiple diseases, vaccines for which remain elusive & if that happens with COVID 19, herd immunity is our only solution to end the pandemic.”
Dr Swadeep Srivastava, Founder, Heal Foundation said, “The experts have presented a new perspective about immunity at large. The limited activity & exposure of sunlight harm the immunity of a person. Schools have moved to online classes and most corporates have accepted the work from home culture, the changes, which were supposed to save people from COVID, maybe making them vulnerable to infections due to decreasing immunity. With no certainty around vaccines, herd immunity seems to be the only option and opening schools and colleges can be a rational call.”