Kerala is still a long way from achieving herd immunity against COVID-19

Thiruvanathapuram: COVID-19 first arrived in India nearly 21 months ago, with the first case reported from Kerala. As a result, it claimed nearly half a million lives across India, according to official data, and turned the regular pattern of life upside down amid a few bouts of long lockdowns and total travel bans.

Meanwhile, restrictions on public interaction, trade, and other human activities remain in place to varying degrees, and the country is still in the midst of a massive vaccination campaign. Despite the threat of a third wave of the pandemic, the pandemic appears to be on its way out, according to daily updated national figures, but the pandemic has yet to subside in Kerala.

Kerala, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is still a long way from achieving herd immunity. Kerala should have acquired better immunity than other states, based on the number of people who received at least one dose of vaccine and those who became infected. However, according to the findings of a serosurvey conducted by the ICMR in July, Kerala lags behind other states in terms of acquired immunity.

Previously, experts predicted that herd immunity could be achieved if 60% of the population acquired immunity – either through vaccination or infection. In the new scenario, 80-90 percent of the population should have antibodies against the virus in order to achieve herd immunity.

Experts now believe that 70 percent of the Indian population has acquired immunity, either through vaccination or through virus infection, resulting in a decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country. Given this likely development outside the state, Kerala stands to benefit at the very least by speeding up the vaccination drive.

Furthermore, keeping the mortality rate low despite more people contracting the virus aids in immunity building.

The drop in daily COVID-19 cases and lower confirmation rate has encouraged several states to reopen schools. However, these two factors are not in Kerala’s favour.

As many as 19 states that lag behind Kerala in terms of achieving immunity through vaccination have reopened their schools.

Furthermore, vaccination of children under the age of 18 has yet to begin in India, which is a major concern as schools reopen. The ICMR and the central government had indicated that states that accelerated vaccination could reopen educational institutions.

Kerala reported 29,322 new COVID cases and 131 deaths from the disease on Friday, September 3. In comparison, the national total, including Kerala, was 45,352 new COVID-19 cases and 366 new fatalities. In other words, Kerala was responsible for 70.7 percent of new infections and 51% of deaths.

 

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