Israel may be reaching herd immunity

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A leading Israeli doctor believes the country may be close to reaching “herd immunity”.

This happens when enough of a population has protection against an infection that it stops being able to spread – and even people who don’t themselves have immunity are indirectly protected.

For Covid the estimated threshold for herd immunity is at least 65%-70%.

But scientists in the UK are more cautious.

Dr Sarah Pitt, a virologist at the University of Brighton, urged “extreme caution” in concluding that herd immunity had been reached – something she believes will be difficult even at high vaccination rates.

She said it was still too early to tell: “We need to see whether the cases in Israel continue to fall and stay at low levels.”

Reaching this level of population immunity is important to protect people who can’t be vaccinated or whose immune system is too weak to produce a good, protective response.

In Israel, more than half (5.3 million) its residents have been vaccinated and an additional 830,000 people have tested positive for the virus in the past, which should give them some natural immunity.

That works out as roughly 68% of the population who are likely to have antibodies in their blood which can fight off the virus.

Photo: An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man walks on a main street in Jerusalem. EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN

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