WHO: COVID herd immunity not to happen in 2021

12:02, 12 January 2021
WHO: COVID herd immunity not to happen in 2021 Photo: Sergey Bulkin/

World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said that herd immunity to the coronavirus would not be achieved in 2021, despite the growing availability of vaccines.

We are not going to achieve any levels of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021, Swaminathan said during a briefing.

The scientist emphasized that measures such as physical distancing, handwashing, and wearing masks continue to be necessary for containing COVID-19's spread for the rest of the year.

The WHO scientist called on people to be a little patient, saying the rollout of vaccines does take time, as the scale of dose production is in the billions, DW reported.

The vaccines are going to come. They are going to go to all countries ... but meanwhile we mustn't forget that there are measures that work, she added, referring to hygiene and social distancing.

According to health experts, mitigating factors to herd immunity include limited access to vaccines in developing countries, skepticism about vaccination, and the potential for virus mutations. 

A growing number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and EU countries, are in the first stages of mass-vaccination campaigns.

Herd immunity occurs when enough people in a population have immunity to the infection to prevent the disease from spreading.

France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands have received the first deliveries of the coronavirus vaccine from the US biotech company Moderna, reported earlier.