A mathematical model reveals the influence of population heterogeneity on herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

Britton T, Ball F, Trapman P

Science 369 (6505) 846-849 [2020-08-14; online 2020-06-23]

Despite various levels of preventive measures, in 2020, many countries have suffered severely from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. Using a model, we show that population heterogeneity can affect disease-induced immunity considerably because the proportion of infected individuals in groups with the highest contact rates is greater than that in groups with low contact rates. We estimate that if R0 = 2.5 in an age-structured community with mixing rates fitted to social activity, then the disease-induced herd immunity level can be ~43%, which is substantially less than the classical herd immunity level of 60% obtained through homogeneous immunization of the population. Our estimates should be interpreted as an illustration of how population heterogeneity affects herd immunity rather than as an exact value or even a best estimate.

Category: Social Science & Humanities

Funder: NordForsk

Funder: VR

Funder: VR: Special COVID-19 funding

Type: Journal article

PubMed 32576668

DOI 10.1126/science.abc6810

Crossref 10.1126/science.abc6810

pii: science.abc6810
pmc: PMC7331793

Publications 7.2.9