The World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, has warned that despite the launch of the vaccine in several countries, herd immunity to the coronavirus will not be achieved in 2021.
“We are not going to achieve any levels of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021. Even if it happens in a couple of pockets in a few countries, it’s not going to protect people across the world,” she announced at a briefing in Geneva on Monday.
Swaminathan praised the “incredible progress” that researchers have made in developing a number of safe and effective vaccines at extraordinary speed, but remarked that the rollout “does take time.”
“It takes time to scale the production of doses, not just in the millions, but here we are talking about in the billions,” she said.
Swaminathan said that although every country would eventually get the vaccine, it is imperative to continue taking measures like physical distancing, washing hands, and wearing masks.
There are a few mitigating factors to herd immunity like limited access to vaccines in developing countries, skepticism surrounding vaccination, and the potential for the mutations of the virus, which means that despite the vaccines, the fight against the pandemic continues.