WHO warns that herd immunity won’t happen in 2021

Commuters wearing face masks walk at Shinagawa Station in Tokyo on January 8, 2021. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that ssocial distancing measures will need to stay in place “ for the rest of this year,” even as vaccination rollouts get under way globally, because it takes time to build up herd immunity. 

WHO’s Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan speaking a brief on Monday said:

 “ Because even as vaccines start protecting the most vulnerable, we are not going to achieve any level of population immunity, or herd immunity, in 2021 and even if it happens in a couple of pockets in a few countries, it’s not going to protect people across the world.”

Swaminathan added “ A situation where the majority of a population becomes immune to the virus either because they have become infected and recovered; or through vaccination-  won’t be achieved this year.” 

Health officials had warned the Covid-19 pandemic would make winter one of the most difficulties times in US history. 


For the past week, the US averaged more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths per day. And monday marked the seventh day in a row the country reported more than 200,000 new Covid-19 infections. 

December was devastating and January could be deadlier.

The figures below are based on data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering




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