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 R 0 = 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

pmc: PMC7331793
pii: science.abc6810

Publications 9.5.0