Achieving herd immunity via vaccination was always going to be a hard ask. Now it’s mathematically impossible.
Viewing immunity as a carpet that we weave together evokes labour and artistry, and suggests we have a role in crafting something rather than simply being acted upon by a virus.
The metaphor of a collective “carpet of immunity” invites us to imagine immunity as a collaborative project, spreading out to protect those for whom the end of mandates means increased vulnerability.
B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon has his COVID-19 vaccine QR code scanned in September, 2021.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vaccine passports became one of the most divisive issues of the COVID-19 pandemic. These policies were affected not only by public opinion but by new variants and changing goals for herd immunity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught most people more than they ever expected to know about immunology.
Membio/iStock via Getty Images Plus
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought immunology terms that are typically relegated to textbooks into our everyday vernacular. These stories helped us make sense of the ever-evolving science.
Preliminary research suggests that the omicron variant may potentially induce a robust immune response.
Olga Siletskaya/Moment via Getty Images
Some of the omicron variant’s unique properties – such as its ability to spread rapidly while causing milder COVID-19 infections – could usher in a new phase of the pandemic.
Variant-specific vaccines would undoubtedly increase immunity. But waves of new variants would engulf the population faster than these vaccines could ever be deployed.
The list of SARS-CoV-2 variants – each with its own unique qualities that give it an edge – just keeps growing.
Matt Anderson Photography/Moment via Getty Images
People are buzzing with questions about the omicron variant and whether it could help usher in herd immunity. A team of virologists deciphers the latest findings.
The best way to stop new variants from arising is to increase the proportion of vaccinated individuals while maintaining infection prevention measures like wearing masks and social distancing.
Even with a variant like Omicron that may be more transmissible than earlier variants, vaccines remain the most effective tool for protection against COVID-19 and for ending the pandemic.
With the holiday season approaching, people wait to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Montréal as the pandemic continues in Canada and around the world.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
A panel of experts answer questions about vaccines, omicron and other COVID-related issues in a discussion with The Conversation.
Young children are rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated, protecting themselves against COVID-19 and helping to curb the pandemic.
The participation of five-to-11-year-old children in vaccination programs will make 90 per cent of the population eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Experts estimate that close to 90% of the U.S. population must be vaccinated to reach herd immunity for COVID-19.
David McNew/AFP via Getty Images
Vaccination campaigns like the ones that eventually eliminated polio and measles in the United States required decades of education and awareness in order to achieve herd immunity in the U.S. population.
Regulators are currently reviewing the safety and efficacy data of the Pfizer vaccine for five to 11 year olds before deciding whether to approve its use in this age group.
Voluntary modifications to behaviour – such as mask wearing when it’s not mandatory – are probably helping to keep the virus in check.
Protesters gather at Indiana University in June 2021 to demonstrate against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for students, staff and faculty.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Subtly shifting the crafting and delivery of public health messaging on COVID-19 vaccines could go a long way toward persuading many of the unvaccinated to get the shot.
Intensive care physicians are yet again facing ICU bed and staff shortages as severe COVID-19 cases rise.
gorodenkoff/iStock via Getty Images Plus
A critical care doctor brings a frontlines perspective to the frustration of dealing firsthand with vaccine hesitancy and discusses the limitations of science and medicine.
Australia could again fall into the trap of false economies by opening up too soon.
COVID-19 vaccination in Africa is speeding up.
Habimana Thierry/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
In Africa, it’s more rational to prioritise vaccine access, rapid rollout and community engagement, than pushing the narrative of vaccine-induced population immunity.
But herd immunity is not our only option. If we don’t vaccinate children, we may have to settle for lesser protection of the population.
Governments should drop the idea of herd immunity. It risks leaving people feeling disillusioned by vaccination campaigns.
Once we achieve herd immunity, people who are not vaccinated benefit indirectly from the immunity of those around them. But it’s not easy to say exactly when we’ll reach this threshold for COVID-19.