Spanish antibody study casts doubt on chances of herd immunity
Tuesday, 07 July 2020
A persistent theory that herd immunity could be a feasible way to tackle the coronavirus has had a substantial knock after a new Spanish study cast doubt on the idea.
According to the study of 61,075 people in 35,883 randomly selected households throughout the country, roughly 5% of the Spanish population has developed antibodies. This stops far short of the 70% to 90% of a population required in order to achieve herd immunity.
“Despite the high impact of Covid-19 in Spain, prevalence estimates remain low and are clearly insufficient to provide herd immunity,” said the authors of the study, which is thought to be the first of its kind in Europe.
“This cannot be achieved without accepting the collateral damage of many deaths in the susceptible population and overburdening of health systems.
“In this situation, social distance measures and efforts to identify and isolate new cases and their contacts are imperative for future epidemic control.”
As their remains no vaccine against the coronavirus, infection still remains the only route towards achieving herd immunity, which had been presented as a potential solution for halting the spread of the virus. However, research suggests that after infection with some coronaviruses, reinfection with the same virus — though usually mild and only happening in a fraction of people — is possible after a period of months or years, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Belgium’s Foreign Ministry has changed its travel advice for Spain from green to orange following the lockdown imposed on Saturday in and around the city of Lérida in Catalonia.
According to the Foreign Ministry’s classification, travel to countries coded orange “is allowed but subject to quarantine, a test or other conditions.”
“On 4 July, the government of Catalonia decided to quarantine the El Segria district (Lérida province),” the Foreign Ministry wrote on its website. “Until further notice, entering or leaving the area is prohibited.”
For travelling to other destinations in Spain, there is no problem. People wishing to travel by air to Spain need to fill in a form at least 48 hours in advance indicating their place of departure and whether they have been in contact with the new coronavirus (Covid-19).