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Herd immunity effective in war against Covid-19, says expert

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From the beginning of the pandemic, experts have been talking about herd immunity. How does a nation reach there?

The importance of building immunity to fight against Covid-19 has been proven, but how can it be attained, especially when variants continue to emerge?

Observer spoke to Dr Ahmed Shahrabani, Omani doctor based in the UK, NIA Fellow and Co-Founder at Locum’s Nest, working in Covid-19 ward.

According to him, it is of paramount importance that countries achieve herd immunity in the war against Covid-19. For many reasons, the most palpable being the achievement of herd immunity will lead to the virus slowly dissipating out of existence which results in a rapid decrease in the sickness and ultimately an even more significant reduction in fatalities, he pointed out.

“It also considerably decreases the risk of new variants emerging. It is theorised that to achieve herd immunity, 70 per cent of the population needs to be immune to the virus – this could be in the form of receiving a vaccination or having developed antibodies following exposure to the virus. Looking at the global data on Johnson & Johnson, the vaccine that Oman has invested heavily in, studies estimate the vaccine has an efficacy of 66-72 per cent. Assuming it is 70 per cent effective, this means that 100 per cent of the population in Oman needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity.

“However, this isn’t completely accurate as one needs to include the immunity of those that have had the virus and developed natural immunity as well as those that have received alternative vaccines,” he said.

Analysing the current situation, he further explained to Observer, “Thus far, it appears as though 80,000 people in Oman are fully vaccinated, and just over 220,000 have recovered from Covid-19 – totalling 300,000 people (roughly 10 per cent of the population). This highlights to me the importance of everybody currently in Oman going to the medical centre to receive the vaccine when made available to them – we will still need 19 of 20 people who are offered the vaccine to go and have it to achieve herd immunity in the Sultanate.”

In terms of children below 15 being affected by Covid19 Dr Ahmed, said, “Right from the beginning, it was clear that Covid-19 adversely affected the elderly and more clinically vulnerable than the young. This is still the case; however, vaccinating children will be very effective in reducing the transmission of the virus amongst the rest of the population as we all know that the virus can be transmitted even via asymptomatic carriers. The risk of blood clots is exceptionally low, and the overall benefit to the nation is of paramount importance.

In regard to the variants, Dr Ahmed believes that as long as Covid-19 is in existence, there will be variants emerging, much like any other virus that can mutate as it is transmitted.

Observer spoke to

Dr Ahmed Shahrabani, Omani doctor based in UK, NIA Fellow and Co-Founder at Locum’s Nest, working in Covid-19 ward

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