Herd immunity impractical to achieve: AIIMS Director

Dr Randeep Guleria

Chennai: Herd immunity is ‘very difficult’ to achieve and one should not think of it in ‘practical terms’ in India, especially in the times of ‘variant strains’ of Covid-19 and ‘waning immunity’, claimed AIIMS director Randeep Guleria.

Guleria was speaking at the ongoing edition of Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) in a session on his book ‘Till We Win: India’s Fight Against The Covid-19 Pandemic’ — co-authored by public policy and health systems expert Chandrakant Lahariya and renowned vaccine researcher and virologist Gagandeep Kang.

“Herd immunity is something that is going to be very, very difficult to achieve and it is something one should not really think of in practical terms… because the variant strains and varying immunity with times can lead to a chance where people may have reinfection or get infection again,” the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director said.

“And one should also remember that large number of people have had mild infections and we do know that those with mild infection tend to have less antibodies production, their antibodies tend to wane over a period of time,” he added.

Experts say herd immunity is said to have been developed in a population segment if at least 50-60 per cent of those are found to have the presence of antibodies in a sero-prevalence survey.

Guleria here also gave the example of Brazilian city Manaus which even after having achieved the herd immunity in October is now battling the second Covid-19 wave.

“They (Brazil) had claimed that they got herd immunity with almost 70 per cent of the population being protected because of the past infection, and yet because of the Brazilian variant and waning immunity a large number of people got infected again. And now they are in a very bad situation because of resurgence of cases,” he noted.

Here, he also asserted that no sero surveys done so far have suggested India being ‘anyway near’ achieving herd immunity.


NT Bureau