Higher percentage of people need to be vaccinated for herd immunity

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The Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, has become the more dominant, deadly strain of the coronavirus globally and Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony says that a higher percentage of Guyana’s population has to get vaccinated.

Speaking during his daily COVID-19 update on Tuesday, the Health Minister explained that Guyana had been striving to vaccinate all eligible adults and more recently, children older than 12 years old to ensure that they are protected against experiencing the more severe and life-threatening forms of COVID-19.

“We now have the Delta variant, and because that is more transmissible you have to get a higher percentage of the population immunised,” Dr. Anthony said.

As part of efforts to achieve this herd immunity, Guyana had been aiming to vaccinate about 80 per cent of the targeted adult population; that would be about 410,469 adults out of an estimate of 512,983 adults. Efforts are also being made to vaccinate about 58,345 children in the 12 to 17 age group. The total number of children in this age group is 72,904.

Now, however, Dr. Anthony says that the local health authorities are seeking to vaccinate up to about 90 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity.  For context, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), herd immunity is “… the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through the previous infection.”

And, importantly, the WHO says that it supports achieving herd immunity through vaccination and not by allowing a disease to spread through any segment of the population, since the spread of the disease would result in unnecessary cases and deaths.

It is important to note that once the Pfizer vaccines are approved for use in children aged 5 to 12 years old, Dr. Anthony also said that efforts will commence administering the vaccines to these children too.

Guyana has recorded a surge in the number of people who have died from COVID-19 over the past few months with a total of 179 dying in the month of September alone. Over the past 24 hours alone, another six deaths have been recorded.

The increase in these deaths has been attributed to the spread of the deadly Delta variant and Dr. Anthony says that widespread vaccination is a necessity.

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