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Have we reached herd immunity with COVID-19?

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  • Staff Report 

Experts are saying that “herd immunity” might not apply to COVID-19, as new variants continue to emerge.

The term “herd immunity” is used when the majority of the population is immune to a disease through vaccination or previous infection, creating a sort of umbrella of protection for everyone.

However, the rapidly mutating nature of COVID-19 is causing concern for some experts who believe that true herd immunity may never be achievable. Dr. Emil Lesho, an infectious disease expert for Rochester Regional Health, recently told News10NBC that herd immunity may not apply to COVID-19 in the traditional sense due to the virus’s rapidly evolving nature.

In the past, herd immunity benchmarks were set at 70-80% of the population becoming immune, but new variants such as Omicron and Delta have complicated these numbers.

Lesho notes that herd immunity is still important for pathogens that don’t mutate, such as measles. Without herd immunity to measles, breakthrough cases could have serious effects on people who don’t respond well to infections or vaccines.