News Snapshot: Herd Immunity & The “Twindemic”

August 18, 2020

News Snapshot: Herd Immunity & The “Twindemic”

Some researchers are debating a hopeful possibility: the herd immunity threshold might be lower than expected, and there may already be some cities/communities that have achieved those levels of immunity.

“To achieve so-called herd immunity — the point at which the virus can no longer spread widely because there are not enough vulnerable humans — scientists have suggested that perhaps 70% of a given population must be immune, through vaccination or because they survived the infection.
In interviews with The New York Times, more than a dozen scientists said that the threshold is likely to be much lower: just 50 percent, perhaps even less. If that’s true, then it may be possible to turn back the coronavirus more quickly than once thought.”

The New York Times also reported that even a mild flu season could debilitate hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, resulting in a “twindemic.” Public health officials are worried large numbers of people could forgo flu shots this year, thus increasing the risk of widespread outbreaks.

“The concern about a twindemic is so great that officials around the world are pushing the flu shot even before it becomes available in clinics and doctors’ offices. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been talking it up, urging corporate leaders to figure out ways to inoculate employees. The C.D.C. usually purchases 500,000 doses for uninsured adults but this year ordered an additional 9.3 million doses.”

Though likely to yield some scrutiny in the coming days, both articles suggest that logging an individual’s test results (e.g. antibody tests) and vaccine records (e.g. flu shots) might be critical for those who are returning to work or school, traveling, volunteering, and other similar activities that carry an inherent risk.

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