Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

July 14, 2020
Herd immunity, without a vaccine, hard to achieve

As of July 13, Tooele County had a cumulative total of 358 laboratory confirmed positive COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic with 16 of those that were hospitalized, according to a bi-weekly situational report released by the Tooele County Health department.

This is an increase of 43 confirmed cases from the last report on July 9.

Four individuals are currently in the hospital. There have been no deaths in the county attributed to COVID-19 at this time.

Utah State has had 30,030 positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic. This is compared to 27,356 cases on July 9.

In Utah there have been 1,850 individuals hospitalized.

There have been 216 deaths and 418,335 individuals have been tested in the state, according to the report.

There has been discussion of “herd immunity” in different media sources, Amy Bate, from the Tooele County Health Department, wants the community members to understand what herd immunity is and how it works.

Herd immunity occurs when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely, according to Bate.

Herd immunity provides indirect protection to those who are not immune to the disease and is usually achieved through vaccination, according to Bate.

Although, it can occur through natural infection, she said.

Herd immunity also protects individuals who are immune-compromised or those who have weakened immune systems and cannot be safely vaccinated, according to Bate.

Based upon a report released by Harvard Medical School, with the contagiousness of the COVID-19 virus, experts estimate that somewhere between 70% and 80% of the population needs to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity, Bate said.

That would be approximately 200 million individuals living in the United States or five billion individuals worldwide. In order for herd immunity to occur through natural infection, many individuals would become ill and many of those individuals would die, according to the report.

Also, according to the report, it is impossible to tell how long people who recover from the virus will remain immune to reinfection.

In the past, individuals would infect themselves with diseases, such as chickenpox before the vaccine was developed in an attempt to achieve immunity.

“For less severe diseases, this approach might be reasonable. But the situation for COVID-19 is very different: COVID-19 carries a much higher risk of severe disease and even death,” the report stated.

 

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