Some 5.3 million residents in Israel—over half of the population—have been vaccinated and 830,000 more have tested positive for coronavirus, leads a doctor to believe that the country may have reached herd immunity.
The director of Sheba Medical Center, the nation’s largest hospital, Prof. Eyal Leshem said that herd immunity was the “only explanation” for the falling number of cases even as more constraints were relaxed.
However, British virologist Dr. Sarah Pitt from the University of Brighton advised “extreme caution” in making such a claim, as it is her view that this is a formidable goal even with high inoculation rates.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, many countries are still under lockdown, except for Chile and Israel. Yet, in Israel, unlike Chile, the number of infections continues to drop as the economy opens up.
Despite this encouraging outlook, it is still important to remember that vaccines are not 100% effective. Vaccinated people may still infect others while not all formerly infected persons develop immunity to Covid19.
Pitt suggests instead of focusing on herd immunity levels, concentrate on looking for consistently low infection rates.
Leshem also warned that future variants could be more resistant to the vaccines, which may cause Israel to drop below the immunity threshold of 65 to 80%. But this could be managed by making changes to the vaccine, much like the yearly flu shot.
Herd immunity is vital to protect individuals who cannot get the jab or whose bodies cannot produce a sufficient response.
In the Philippines, some 1.77 million doses have been given but only about 238,000 have received both doses. This translates to only 0.2% of the population vaccinated.