What after herd immunity?

In what can be dubbed as another significant achievement for Bhutan against the Covid-19, the country will now have almost 80% of its population fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 this week. 

We saw the health ministry administer the second dose of vaccination for children between 12 and 17 years in some 15 districts starting from October 26 to cover some 45,000 children between 12 and 17 years. 

Further, the campaign also started vaccinating adults who had their first dose of vaccination in July. It has been reported that some 6,000 adults across the country will also receive their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

After the completion of the five-day vaccination campaign, which will end today, Bhutan will achieve the so-called herd immunity, which the government has been striving for since it started the vaccination campaign program in the country.

Medically, herd immunity is achieved when at least 80% of the total population of a country are fully vaccinated against a disease.

Now that Bhutan will achieve or has achieved herd immunity, does that mean that we are safe? Does it mean that we need not fret about the Covid-19 anymore? Does that mean that we have got hold of the Covid-19 and that everything is over for good?

However, our fight against the Covid-19 is far from over even if we achieve herd immunity. This is going by what experts are saying. The National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and the health ministry are still urging people to not become complacent and practice safety protocols at all times with the emergence of the ‘Delta Plus’ variant of the coronavirus in the UK and the ‘Sub-Delta’ variant in India.

And with the cold settling in because of the approaching winter, experts feel that the cold season would prompt new Covid-19 cases. We saw it happen last year when there was a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases globally, including deaths, as the cold weather approached. We were no exception too.

Experts, therefore, say that the threat is the same this time, if not more. With Covid-19 pandemic still being a global public health concern, the fight against the Covid-19 is not over even for Bhutan even if we proclaim of having done so much and having achieved herd immunity. 

Covid-19 pandemic, according to experts, could only be eradicated if all countries manage to vaccinate their entire population and have a well-established protocol against the pandemic. But this is something which will take time as some countries are reportedly struggling to get the vaccines for their people and a few countries are witnessing an increasing number of new cases recently. Until then, we can only hope and wait, and not let our guards down.