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What Do We Mean By Elimination, Eradication, And Herd Immunity

The war against the pandemic has been going for more than a year now.

Hopes are still high to achieve a level of eradication similar to smallpox or eliminate the virus, like measles.

What Do We Mean By Elimination, Eradication, And Herd Immunity

The initial aspiration of attaining herd immunity comes with a set of prerequisites that has to be fulfilled and maintained.

Amidst all of this, the struggle to defeat the virus stands at a critical juncture.

What do we mean by elimination, eradication, and herd immunity

History of the past pandemics.

There have been pandemics in the past that were successfully defeated by science and dedication.

Looking at the anthrax outbreak in Kenya, measles in the USA, or the threat of smallpox that prevailed across the globe, critical hindsight can be obtained.

It is important to realize that these kinds of diseases don’t restrict to nations, and the best the population can do is to keep faith in science and consider global wellbeing above personal interest.

While the surge of a pandemic is not in human control, the preventive measures certainly are.

According to the director of the Center for History of Medicine at Michigan University, Dr. Howard Markel, rigorous adherence to the measures of sanitization or physical distancing could lower the fatalities by a large extent.

Understanding the difference.

To assess our progress in the war against covid-19, it is crucial to understand the definition of victory when it comes to a pandemic.

Eradication being the hardest to achieve is considered similar to some fictitious character. 

So far, it has been attained only for two diseases, with rinderpest infection in cattle and smallpox in humans.

According to Dr. Markel, it is the rarest form of a hindrance for infectious diseases.

Herd immunity is achieved when a certain proportion of the population is immunized or infected, which curbs the advancement of the infection.

However, experts believe that the effectiveness of herd immunity depends on the factors like the density of the community, the number of vulnerable people within the community, and few other attributes.

Since the exact percentage that ensures immunity is still unknown, vaccinations are to be extended when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts like Markel indicate covid-19 vaccine might become an annual phenomenon like common influenza. 

However, the vaccines will be altered every year to main effectiveness against any new virus variants that may arrive.

Compared to the aforementioned approaches, elimination is an easier target to aspire for.

Elimination is said to have been achieved when the infection rate reaches zero or almost zero for a particular region, along with persistent attempts to avert future infection.

Achievements in the past include controlling measles or diphtheria.

Although they have been removed to a large extent, the danger of transmission remains in low immunized communities.

Hence according to experts, it is not a reliable approach even if it is socially standardized.

What the future looks like for covid-19?

Diseases like smallpox, diphtheria, or measles have certainly vanished from western societies, yet it is crucial to remember that viruses are not restrained by national demarcations.

According to Dr. Bill Foege, the epidemiologist known for his contribution to eradicated smallpox believes a wider approach is needed to get better results.

Since the majority of the diseases are caused by viruses, animal to human and human to human transmission should be thoroughly studied by scientists.

Adopting a global outlook is also necessary for diseases like covid-19, where countries should reach out to each other.

Elimination of covid 19 on the regional level was seen in Australia and New Zealand.

Any new transmissions should be effectively contained and treated along with continued discipline and commitment.

Since experts believe any weaker link in the chain of resistance will destroy the shield and immunity achieved so far.

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