With life in Pakistan returning to normalcy, it is feared that number of cases of the new coronavirus – COVID-19 — will increase further, wreaking havoc in the lives of the general public.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza has also warned of the same while Minister for Science & Technology Fawad Chaudhry predicts that Pakistan is expected to see the peak of COVID-19 cases by mid-June.
Meanwhile, epidemiologists are of the view that it is difficult to predict exactly when the virus will hit its peak in the country since there is always a risk of the number of infections escalating even after positive cases start declining.
For a little perspective it may be noted that the United States (US) and Italy are the most-affected countries where the pandemic curve hiked and changed several times.
Coronavirus hit its peak in the US between the 10th and 14th weeks since the first case was reported. More than 800,000 cases were reported during these weeks.
Italy, on the other hand, witnessed a peak between the 6th and 10th weeks as more than 424,120 cases were reported.
Pakistan entered its epidemic curve on April 29 (9th week) and the number of cases in Pakistan is still increasing as there is a possibility that the country might experience the peak after June 15.
Pakistan may experience another curve later on because limited tests are being conducted as for now. According to experts, the country’s testing capacity should be between 40,000 to 50,000 at this point, while Pakistan is testing 7,000 to 13,000 people every day, which is not sufficient.
Enter herd immunity, which opposition parties do not seem to be a huge fan of.
Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through vaccination or previous infections, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune.
Here are some facts and consequences of herd immunity if the government goes on to consider it an option.
Any population develops herd immunity when 40 per cent of the total number of people develop immunity against an infectious disease. In some cases, it can go up to 80 to 90 per cent of the total population.
So, an important question is how much of the total population needs to get infected to develop herd immunity? So far, there is no evidence of herd immunity against coronavirus, as the Netherlands, which had planned to go for it and treat only critically ill patients, also stepped back from the said policy after a spike in mortality rate.
According to predictions by some experts, it can take up to four or five years to develop herd immunity.
To develop herd immunity in Pakistan, 176,000,000 people (80 per cent of the total population) have to get infected. This could cause 3,713,600 deaths as per the current 2.11 per cent mortality rate.