If enough people have immunity to a disease, they can act as shields between those who are infectious and those who are still susceptible – a concept known as herd immunity.
Will there be herd immunity for COVID-19?
“We do not know what the degree or duration of protection is for people who have recovered from the disease,” says Vivek Goel, the University of Toronto’s vice-president, research and innovation, and strategic initiatives, and a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. To find out, Canada has established an immunity task force and the World Health Organization is organizing a study to examine levels of immunity around the world – but answers will take time, Goel says.
In episode 14 of his podcast on the pandemic, Goel – a renowned public health expert and founding head of Public Health Ontario, which was set up in response to the 2003 SARS outbreak – explains how herd immunity works and why it will be important to study the data carefully.
COVID-19: What’s Next? is a bi-weekly podcast created by Goel in collaboration with a University of Toronto Communications team led by producer Lisa Lightbourn.
Note: The information in this podcast is current as of the posting date. Listeners should consult their local public health agency for the latest information in their jurisdiction.