Herd Immunity to Fight Against COVID-19: A Narrative Review

Cureus. 2023 Jan 9;15(1):e33575. doi: 10.7759/cureus.33575. eCollection 2023 Jan.


The advent of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its consequent illness, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has revealed the severe impact of new, contagious pathogens on the population throughout the globe. Here, we describe the fundamental notions of herd immunity and discuss their consequences from the perspective of COVID-19, along with the obstacles to acquiring herd immunity. SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19, a contagious respiratory infection. It is a major global health issue, with more than 179 million positive cases and 3.8 million deaths globally. It has impacted more than 159 countries; hence, the World Health Organization designated it a pandemic. Different vaccines have been developed against coronavirus to slow the spread of this deadly virus. Immunizing people against coronavirus is the key to getting through this infectious virus. The central concept of this review article is the effect of vaccinating a large population to achieve herd immunity and the reasons for the delay in developing herd immunity. Herd immunity can prove highly beneficial for dealing with reinfection. Moreover, it can reduce the severity of the reinfection in many people who are twice infected with COVID-19. Herd immunity can prevent people in the high-risk group such as immunocompromised individuals; those on immunosuppressants; organ transplant recipients; particular age groups such as neonates, infants, toddlers, and elderly; those with impaired immunity; those with anaphylaxis reactions; and people with chronic diseases. However, due to repeated mutations of the virus, it is evolving into new strains with more severity. Its consequences on the immune system and response to a vaccine are still a big challenge to overcome. How new variants of COVID-19 impacted herd immunity needs to be investigated. The duration required for the development of herd immunity and how long it would last is still under research, along with the number of doses needed, booster doses, and the proportion of the population to be vaccinated.

Keywords: coronavirus; covid-19; herd immunity; immunocompromised; mutation; reinfection; vaccine.

Publication types

  • Review