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Spreading COVID-19 to more people will not boost herd immunity according to local health expert

Dr. Clendenin said achieving herd immunity through spreading COVID-19 to more people may be dangerous because it is not yet clear how long immunity lasts.

BRYAN, Texas — Some health experts compare beating coronavirus to a group project. In order to succeed, everyone must do their part. 

While a vaccine for COVID-19 is still in the works, the potential of herd immunity being successful in a community has come into question.

“The concept of herd immunity is a way of breaking the cycle of disease transmission in a larger population through either vaccination or having the disease go through the community such that there’s immunity in a large portion of the population so a disease can’t find another host," said Texas A&M School of Public Health's Angela Clendenin.

Dr. Clendenin said infecting a large part of the population with the disease will result in excess deaths and morbidity. She said the only appropriate way to achieve herd immunity is through vaccinations.

“The issue that we have and what were seeing right now with COVID-19 is that we don't have a vaccine. We have to use what are more physical types of measures to break the cycle of transmission which are the same things we’ve been talking about since March. Wearing a mask when you’re in public, washing your hands before touching your face, frequent sanitizing of surfaces, and also that physical distancing with social interaction,” said Dr. Clendenin.

She said once a vaccine is created, the more people that are vaccinated means the more protection is for vulnerable populations and those that cannot be vaccinated.

“If we had an infected individual, technically they can infect two people. Let’s say one of them is vaccinated so only one of them is going to be able to get the disease. They can infect two people who then have potential to infect all of these people...that are susceptible. This is where only four people have been vaccinated," said Dr. Clendenin.

Dr. Clendenin said achieving herd immunity through spreading COVID-19 to more people may be dangerous because it is not yet clear how long immunity to the virus lasts. 

Texas A&M School of Public Health said while coronavirus remains a novel virus with a lot of unknowns, continue to maintain your health and safety protocols of distancing and creating barriers.