Letter to the Editor:  Regarding Herd Immunity


As the wind howls, I am discussing herd immunity on the phone with someone who has formally studied it for many years and looking out my window to see a prized rosebush is still alive after our hard freeze in February.

Data from various pandemics over time and the outcomes on the people who lived during that century we reviewed. It is a subject I have been fortunate to work with for 18 years. You can never know all there is to know. You are always a student.  Nature is the teacher and brilliant at survival, mutation, and adaptation.

Eventually, we reach herd immunity for a specific virus.  For some, it is the quick and efficient way by becoming vaccinated. Gibraltar has 91.5% of their population vaccinated completely.  As a result, while much of Europe is facing renewed restrictions, outbreaks and struggles with its own vaccination rollouts, the Rock is beginning to unlock. Fans are watching live soccer and boxing matches. As summer approaches, life has almost returned to normal in this tiny territory in southern Europe! Celebratory for sure.

For others, there will be another road. They will choose not to be vaccinated or possibly not have access to vaccine. This may include lengthy illnesses, quarantine and isolation, loss of income, hospital stays, possible time on a ventilator, and exposing others. There is a host to give the disease a hold and place to mutate. Immunity building will take much longer.

It was fascinating to watch this unfold in Sweden during the first wave of COVID. Now the resurgence of COVID variants in many countries, such as Brazil who believed they had herd immunity because 76% of their population had COVID during the first wave. They are finding the populace is not immune because the virus has mutated, and not enough people have been vaccinated. They are devasted with over run hospitals and cemeteries.

No matter your perspective, you can find a country that is adjusting to life with outcomes from their actions or circumstances.

Israel is at 57.8% vaccinated. Cayman Islands at 44.1%. The US is currently at 26.2%. Bangladesh and Ecuador are around 1% vaccinated. Iran, Honduras, Thailand and 43 other countries are less than 1% vaccinated.  So, until we reach 70% or above immunity, the virus will continue to survive and adapt.

Unless I am in Gibraltar, I will continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and work to support community immunity. I am fortunate to have been vaccinated and am grateful.

Kris Stokke

dba SE Region Generalist


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