“Herd immunity” has been a hot topic during the pandemic. The idea is that if enough people are exposed and form immunity to the coronavirus, that the immune “herd” forms a sort of barrier between the virus and the vulnerable.
But to reach that level in Tennessee, a report by Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine says at least 70% of the population would need to be infected.
In that scenario — with no vaccine and a fatality rate remaining at 1% — some 50,000 Tennesseans would die before reaching herd immunity. The state has thus far reported 239 fatalities.
Vanderbilt points out that being infected with the coronavirus does not necessarily guarantee permanent immunity either. The length of immunity after recovery is so far unknown.
So, the health policy group says, it is much safer to continue social distancing along with increased testing and contact tracing until a vaccine is available.