COVID-19 reinfection causing difficulties in achieving herd immunity – Health Minister
…17 new cases detected
Reinfection is a roadblock in achieving herd immunity against COVID-19, and it is linked to the emergence of newer variants that are posing newer challenges.
Over 70,000 persons have been infected locally since COVID-19 was detected in March 2020, and vaccination has since been rolled out countrywide. However, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony shared on Thursday that since COVID-19 does not operate like a typical virus, the country would be challenged to arrive at herd immunity.
Initially, herd immunity was touted as having 80 to 85 per cent of the population vaccinated against the novel virus. “When you talk about herd immunity, it means that a high percentage of people would have been vaccinated or infected, recovered, and they have enduring immunity afterwards. COVID-19 is not operating like that, because, with newer variants, you get reinfected. That’s a challenge. With reinfection, it’s hard to get that herd immunity. It’s difficult to say. The mere fact that people are getting reinfected shows that, with newer variants, it will be tough to arrive at herd immunity,” he has said.
He has advised that, for now, persons should just update their protection with booster doses. “What we will have to do is learn to live with the virus, and, at regular intervals, be boosted with the boosters that are becoming available. That’s one of the reasons they’re now changing to develop bivalent vaccines that would have parts of the ancestral strain and the circulating strain.”
When asked if the Health Ministry would be introducing COVID-19 vaccines in their childhood immunization programme, Dr Anthony posited that this would be possible if the immunity is long-lasting. “The vaccines we currently have would last from four to six months, then you have to be boosted. You’re getting some short-term protecting, but unless that protection is renewed, you are going to have challenges. Unless a pan-coronavirus vaccine is developed that protects you for a long duration, then that type of immunisation would not be possible,” he explained.
While cases, deaths and hospitalisation rates have fallen, an emergency committee at the World Health Organization would determine if the pandemic is still a health emergency after analysing the epidemiological status of COVID.
There have been 17 new reported coronavirus infections as confirmed cases moved to 71,304 on Thursday.
Some 107 active cases are being monitored, and the death toll remains at 1281. There is one patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Meanwhile, four persons are in institutional isolation, 102 are in home isolation, and one is in institutional quarantine. To date, 69,916 persons have recovered after being infected.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) figures, some 609 million confirmed cases have been reported globally, along with 6.5 million deaths. In the Region of the Americas, that is: Latin America and the Caribbean, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has increased to 177 million, while the death toll in the region has gone up to 2.8 million.
Symptoms of coronavirus infection include fever, cough, tiredness, diarrhoea, pains, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell. The more serious symptoms are difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain, and loss of speech or movement.
If anyone is displaying any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, or need any additional information, they are asked to contact the COVID-19 Hotline numbers: 231-1166, 226-7480 or 624-6674 immediately, or visit www.health.gov.gy. (G12)