England Enjoys COVID-19 Herd Immunity Benefits
A new report from Public Health England (PHE) indicates the adult population in England may have already reached a significant level of immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus that causes COVID-19.
According to PHE’s national Influenza and COVID-19 surveillance report published on September 9, 2021, seroprevalence data indicates that approximately 97.7% of blood donors aged 17 and over have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.
These antibodies came from either a coronavirus infection or COVID-19 vaccination.
Furthermore, increases in seropositivity continue to be observed in those aged 17 to 29, following the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
Historically, the term herd immunity was applied differently to various diseases. As an example, the goal for measles herd immunity was 95%.
For polio, the threshold is about 80%, says the World Health Organization.
However, PHE continues to report coronavirus reinfections.
As of the beginning of August 2021, PHE reported 35,124 possible reinfections had been identified, of which 137 have been confirmed by identifying genetically distinct specimens from each illness episode.
It is important to consider reinfections in the context of first infections, and there is a 90- day delay before people with a first infection can become eligible for reinfection, according to the PHE.
To address the waning of COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness, the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson included in the Covid Winter Plan for England offering a third vaccine dose to protect the most vulnerable Brits - less than 1% of the population - rather than all those on the original list of clinically extremely vulnerable people.
The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI) announced last week that a third COVID-19 vaccine dose should be offered to people over the age of 12 with severely weakened immune systems. This subgroup accounts for up to half a million people in the UK.
The Prime Minister is also expected to repeal powers in England that are no longer necessary from the Coronavirus Act as part of the government’s plan for managing Covid over the autumn and winter.
These repeals include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Powers to close down sectors of the economy, such as business premises, or apply restrictions to events and gatherings.
- Powers that disrupt education, enabling temporary closure or restricting access to schools, colleges, childcare, and directing schools to remain open if they close against government guidance.
- Powers that extend time limits for urgent warrants. Powers to detain infectious people.
Vital powers from the Act will be retained that are critical to protect and support the public, such as legal requirements for someone to isolate if they test positive to protect the most vulnerable from infection and to control the spread of variants.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson commented in a press release issued on September 12, 2021, “Thanks to the efforts of the public, the NHS, and our phenomenal vaccination program, we reached Step 4 in our Roadmap, and life has returned to a sense of normality.”
Moreover, the UK health secretary confirmed that plans to introduce vaccine passports to access nightclubs and large events in England would not go ahead.
Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, told the BBC, "We shouldn't be doing things for the sake of it."
In the USA, new data from the U.S. CDC published by the JAMA Network on September 2, 2021, indicates herd immunity may be achievable soon.
This review is based on blood donations in the U.S. from July 2020 through May 2021, including both natural infection- and vaccine-induced SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence. This repeated cross-sectional study included over 1.4 million blood donation specimens representing 74% of the US population.
The estimated SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence weighted for differences between the study sample and general population increased from 3.5% in July 2020 to 20.2% for infection-induced antibodies and 83.3% for combined infection- and vaccine-induced antibodies in May 2021.
The coronavirus seroprevalence differed by age, race, ethnicity, and geographic region of residence, and these differences changed over the course of the study.
Since May 2021, the U.S. CDC has reported significant increases in COVID-19 vaccinations, initial infections, and re-infections. More than 4 million of these cases have been reported in the past few weeks.
These new totals may soon push the USA over the 95% head immunity goal.
'Today, the (COVID-19) landscape has changed considerably," said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the U.S. NIH's Director's latest blog published on September 7, 2021.
'Vaccines are now widely available, giving many more people immune protection without ever having to get infected.'
'And yet, the rise of the Delta and other variants means that breakthrough infections and reinfections—which the researchers didn’t account for in their model—have become a much bigger concern.'
Note: There are various types of vaccine-related immunity, which are summarized at this link. Immunity can be determined by blood tests offered at various commercial laboratories, such as UltaLabTests.com.
PrecisionVaccinations publishes fact-checked research-based vaccine news.
- PHE: Weekly National Influenza and COVID-19 surveillance report
- Prime Minister to set out next steps in Covid response
- WHO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Herd immunity, lockdowns and COVID-19
- Estimated US Infection- and Vaccine-Induced SARS-CoV-2 Seroprevalence Based on Blood Donations, July 2020-May 2021
- CDC: An Ounce of Prevention