Covid-19 Vaccine Or Herd Immunity, Which Probably Comes First In India?

Hanima Anand |Aug 20, 2020

There are reports that nearly a quarter of Indian population have Covid-19 antibodies, raising hope about herd immunity that may even come before vaccine. Is it possible?

Since the very beginning of coronavirus outbreak, people have already argued about the feasibility of herd immunity. Some European countries also considered herd immunity as a solution instead of strict quarantine rules but gradually, people come to terms with the fact that they can’t wait for the mass immunity, given the exponential rise in deaths.

Covid 19 Test In Mumbai
India has conducted surveys on over 2 lakh people, discovering many have Covid-19 antibodies.

Shocking results of Covid-19 antibodies among Indian people

When everyone stops believing in the long-run solution which may cost million deaths to achieve, there’s hope in India, the second most populated country in the world.

Some recent surveys in crowded Indian cities showed shocking results. 30% of New Delhi may have developed Covid-19 antibodies in the first survey, which means they already exposed to the virus and survived without symptoms. The figure is even more surprising in Mumbai slums with up to 57%.

Pune authorities also joined the test in some areas, and 51% of residents here have antibodies as well. Counting all people taking the test across the nation, roughly 24% Indian people have developed an immune system against Covid-19. The total number of test-takers is over 2 lakh.

Coronavirus In Mumbai Slum
Mumbai slum is the area recording the highest rate of seropositive people.

So, the question is whether India can build its herd immunity before the complete development of the Covid-19 vaccine?

Status of Indian Covid-19 vaccine

Currently, there were 3 Indian vaccines experimented for coronavirus prevention. Each vaccine is in its different stages of trials. Specifically, the Covaxin from Bharat BioTech is among the first to be introduced. Next comes the ZyCoV-D vaccine from Zydus Cadila.

Covaxin Vaccine In India
Covaxin is currently the most prominent Covid-19 vaccine candidate in India.

Both these two Covid-19 vaccines launched their first phase of trials last month and now undergoing the second stage. The duo showed their safety in conducted experiments and trials till date.

In the world, Russia has announced its success in producing the Sputnik-V vaccine against the novel type of coronavirus. President Putin even boasted that one of his daughter got injected, feeling well. The country is planning to mass-produce in September, 2020.

Will herd immunity in India comes earlier than Covid-19 vaccine?

There is no certain answer to this question due to the complexity of the pandemic but here’s what we got.

The two most prominent vaccine candidates of India need time to finish its second and then third phase of trials. The final stage includes tests on a large number of humans, which requires utmost safety and is the most difficult phase to pass.

After that, we have to wait a bit so that the vaccine is mass-produced and then mass injected. All the time calculated, Covaxin and ZyCOV-D are both expected to be launched for public use in 2021.

Meanwhile, how long will it take India to achieve herd immunity?

Covid 19 In Mumbai
India, surprisingly, records much lower fatality rate compared to other parts of the world.

According to experts, to gain herd immunity, from 70% to 90% of the population must have immunity against the virus. This means at least three-fourths of Indian 1.3 billion population need to be exposed to Covid-19 and asymptomatic.

Looking back at the number 24% in the survey result, we are still at a far distance to the goal of herd immunity. This doesn’t count the fact that only 2 lakh of people tested in the survey in certain areas, compared to over a billion of people out there.

Also, the figures vary greatly by regions, for example, the Mumbai slum recorded 57% while the non-slum only witnessed 16% of seropositive cases.

Considering that the pandemic started over half a year ago and India now reaches 24% seropositive on average, it might take us another entire year to achieve the minimum number of people with antibodies to have herd immunity.

Covid 19 In India
Vaccine is still the best option we have in the near future.

All in all, the two vaccine candidates are the best options we have now. With the ability and experience in producing vaccines of India, we believe that vaccines would be the key to solve Covid-19 problem while the herd immunity is just a term to recognize, not the goal in the near future.

>>> Update real-time reports of Covid-19 on!

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