In Brief

Herd immunity doubts as Spanish study finds just 5% of population have Covid antibodies

Experts say ‘sobering’ results show importance of vaccine and track-and-trace systems

Hopes of achieving sufficient levels of herd immunity to combat the coronavirus pandemic are unrealistic, a new Spanish study suggests.

The research, outlined in a paper in The Lancet, found that just 5.2% of more than 60,000 people tested three times in as many months had developed coronavirus antibodies. 

But “around 70% to 90% of a population needs to be immune to protect the uninfected”, the BBC says.

Study co-author Dr Marina Pollan, director of Spain’s National Centre of Epidemiology, said that the results show that “Spain is a long way from reaching so-called herd immunity”, reports The Telegraph.

And “it would be very unethical to expose the population to the coronavirus in an indiscriminate way,” she added.

The study paper says that the low rate of antibodies found “despite the high impact of Covid -19 in Spain” indicates that herd immunity “cannot be achieved without accepting the collateral damage of many deaths in the susceptible population and overburdening of health systems”.

Spain has reported almost 251,800 coronavirus infections, and just under 28,400 related deaths, according to latest figures.

Similar studies in China and the US have also found “that most of the population appears to have remained unexposed” to the virus, “even in areas with widespread virus circulation”, the Spanish researchers report.  

 “Social distance measures and efforts to identify and isolate new cases and their contacts are imperative for future epidemic control,” they conclude.

British Society for Immunology spokesperson Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London, described the study findings as “sobering”.

The results show that “the challenge is to identify the best vaccine strategies able to overcome these problems and stimulate a large, sustained, optimal, immune response in the way the virus failed to do”, he said.

Recommended

‘Blaming young people for vaccine hesitancy is a classic conjuror’s misdirection’
A pop-up vaccination centre at a circus in Halifax
Instant Opinion

‘Blaming young people for vaccine hesitancy is a classic conjuror’s misdirection’

Green list destinations: which countries will be added next?
The Algarve, Portugal
The latest on . . .

Green list destinations: which countries will be added next?

Prince Charles fears ‘being dragged into’ Tory ‘cash-for-access’ scandal
Prince Charles
Why we’re talking about . . .

Prince Charles fears ‘being dragged into’ Tory ‘cash-for-access’ scandal

Tanker attack escalates undeclared ‘shadow war’ between Israel and Iran
Saeed Khatibzadeh
Getting to grips with . . .

Tanker attack escalates undeclared ‘shadow war’ between Israel and Iran

Popular articles

Why your AstraZeneca vaccine may mean no European holidays
Boris Johnson receives his second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine
Getting to grips with . . .

Why your AstraZeneca vaccine may mean no European holidays

‘Wobbling’ Moon will cause worldwide flooding, Nasa warns
Flooding in Florida after Hurricane Irma hit in 2017
Why we’re talking about . . .

‘Wobbling’ Moon will cause worldwide flooding, Nasa warns

What next as homes raided in search for Hancock affair whistle-blower?
Matt Hancock leaving No. 10 with Gina Coladangelo in May 2020
The latest on . . .

What next as homes raided in search for Hancock affair whistle-blower?

The Week Footer Banner