The concept of herd immunity is often pitched as the key to a return to normalcy after living for more than a year under coronavirus restrictions, but public health experts warn that achieving and maintaining herd immunity for the coronavirus is increasingly unlikely.
“The concept of herd immunity with COVID-19 remains elusive,” said Dr. Todd Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Health. “What I mean by that is that with influenza we don’t talk about herd immunity. Why? Because we know it’s coming back next year.”
Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from viruses when a large portion of the population is immune, stopping transmission. Most estimates place the threshold at around 70% of the population gaining immunity — either through vaccinations or natural exposure to the virus.