The devil in the details: Herd immunity and pandemic response

Cell Host Microbe. 2021 Jul 14;29(7):1048-1051. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2021.06.017.


If enough individuals in a population are immune to a pathogen, it cannot cause an outbreak. Deliberately seeking such herd immunity through infection during a potentially lethal pandemic is contrary to all principles of public health, given the potential for uncontrolled outbreaks and risks to vulnerable populations.

Keywords: COVID-19; herd immunity; overdispersion; pandemic; transmission; waning immunity.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • COVID-19 / transmission
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Herd*
  • Pandemics*
  • Public Health
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccination


  • COVID-19 Vaccines