‘No magic number’ for Belgian herd immunity against virus, Van Gucht warns
Share article:
Share article:

‘No magic number’ for Belgian herd immunity against virus, Van Gucht warns

Credit: Belga

While there is no “magic number” for herd immunity after which the entire population will be protected against the coronavirus, reaching a higher rate than the minimum of 70% is always better, health officials stated during a press conference on Tuesday.

Experts always said that, to achieve herd immunity, Belgium had to aim for a vaccination coverage of 70%, but vaccinologist Pierre Van Damme of the Vaccination Taskforce last week stated that the threshold should be raised to 85% to 90% to be safe.

“Let me start by saying that there is no magic number for the vaccination coverage, from when the pandemic will suddenly be resolved,” virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht said.

“Initially, 70% was set as the minimum vaccination coverage to be reached, and I think the word ‘minimum’ is very important here,” he said.

In principle, there is no need to get pinned down on a particular figure, according to Van Gucht. “The principle is: the higher the vaccination coverage, the better and the healthier we will be able to put this pandemic behind us.”

Related News:

 

The vaccination rate should, however, be as high as possible, and “preferably higher than 70%,” he said, referring to new more infectious virus variants which have emerged in the meantime.

“The vaccination rate, or the herd immunity, also depends on the infectiousness of the virus,” Van Gucht stressed. “The more infectious the virus is, the higher the herd immunity should be.”

The herd immunity for measles, for example, which is a particularly contagious virus, should at least be at 95% of the population, according to him. “For the coronavirus, it is expected to be somewhere between 70% and 95%.”

Additionally, some of the new variants are more divergent from the initial strain, which is the one in the vaccine.

“This means that the vaccine does not work as well against those variants, and that you benefit from as high a vaccination coverage as possible,” Van Gucht said.

According to him, a coverage of 80% or 90% is “certainly not unrealistic” at this point. “If we look at the 65+ age group, we are already well over 90%, which is a very good result.”

As far as the high-risk groups under 65 years old are concerned, almost 80% have received at least their first dose.

“For the rest of the population, the vaccination campaign has only really come into its own,” said Van Gucht. “But in principle, the more people are vaccinated, the lower the risks in the coming months will be, especially in the coming autumn and winter, and the more we will be able to move towards a complete normalisation of society.”

The more people are vaccinated, the less the virus can continue to circulate, the less chance there is of new outbreaks and the less chance there is of new variants emerging, according to him.

“New variants will continue to emerge, but the pace will slow down, and that is important,” Van Gucht said. “That means that there is also a smaller chance that there will be variants that can break through vaccine immunity, for example.”

Latest news

Cycling traffic officially added to VRT’s traffic bulletin
Usually a list of updates for drivers on busy roads, traffic bulletins will now include the latest travel news for cyclists in Belgium, VRT announced ...
MEPs call for European strategy to protect workers from asbestos
Members of the European Parliament are calling on the Commission to create a strategy for removing all abestos from buildings in order to reduce the ...
Mandatory vaccine for carers: employers call for sanctions
In a notice submitted by the National Council for Work (CNT), employers have called for heavy penalties for healthcare workers who refuse to receive ...
Police pension protest blocks several Brussels crossroads
On Wednesday, around 350 police officers expressed their dissatisfaction about the unclear pension scheme, low salaries and politicised police unions ...
Belgium in Brief: A Consultative Committee Sequel
Sequels often have a lot to live up to and when it comes to movie franchises, it gets difficult to keep up the hype once you get towards the final ...
25 years ago today: 300,000 people marched in white against child abuse
On this day 25 years ago, over 300,000 people marched in Brussels to demand a more effective justice system and to support the families of Julie, ...
Windy weather forecast should lower gas prices
After weeks of relatively calm conditions, a return to windy weather should lower Europe's soaring energy prices. Wind turbines in the UK and Germany ...
EC calls on candidate countries to focus on fundamental reforms before they can join the EU
The Commission adopted yesterday its 2021 Enlargement Package, providing a detailed assessment of the state of play and the progress made by the ...
Cigarette-eating robot patrols Ghent streets to fight littering
A litter fighting (and eating) robot will be patrolling the streets of Ghent in the coming weeks in an effort to raise awareness of the growing ...
Display of child’s room in Brussels raises awareness of foster families
An exhibit that features a fictitious child’s bedroom has been on display since Tuesday at the Place d'Armes in Namur, with the support of the ...
Brussels Airport becomes shareholder in SkeyDrone
The Brussels Airport company has signed an agreement to become a 50 percent shareholder in SkeyDrone, a subsidiary of skeyes, the Belgian Air ...
Two former Belgian top executives plead guilty to bid manipulation in the US
Two former Belgian top executives of the security company G4S have pleaded guilty in the US to bid rigging, according to reporting from De Tijd. ...