RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Thorolfur Guðnason, Iceland’s epidemiologist, believes that the country must now try to achieve herd immunity to the coronavirus by letting it continue, but try to prevent severe disease by protecting vulnerable groups.
He said the goal at this point could not be to eradicate the virus from the community.
A record number of infected people have been diagnosed in recent weeks, even though most of the population has been vaccinated. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires vaccination providers to report any death after the COVID-19 vaccination.
Thorolfur Guðnason said this morning that it is disappointing that herd immunity has not been achieved with vaccination and that there is only one other way to achieve herd immunity so that the virus can spread throughout the community.
Guðnason says he has talked about the coronavirus mutating since the beginning of the epidemic. This has now happened with the arrival of the Delta variant across the border.
However, he says vaccination has not been in vain. “Vaccination has prevented severe disease, there is no question about that.”
He added that it is necessary to respond to how many people become infected after vaccination. “We just have to shuffle the cards and come up with new plans,” he said.
“There’s really nothing else we can do,” Guðnason confirmed when asked if 70- to 80-year-olds need to catch the disease to achieve herd immunity.
SOME NEED TO BE REVACCINATED
Thorolfur says the priority now is to give booster doses to those who responded poorly to vaccination. “We need to try to vaccinate and better protect those at risk, but let’s tolerate new infections,” he said.
“I think it’s pretty clear that Janssen’s vaccine defenses are weaker than other vaccines,” Guðnason said. He added that it is a priority to give a booster dose to those who have received the Janssen vaccine. Then, for example, teachers and the elderly need to receive a booster dose as soon as possible.
“It’s not a priority now to vaccinate everyone with the third dose, so we have to think about that, too: If we get a new variant, do we need to be vaccinated with a different vaccine?” he says.
WILL NOT PROPOSE HARSH MEASURES
“We have to navigate this path, and we’re now in the process of not getting too many severe cases so that the hospital system doesn’t collapse, but still trying to achieve herd immunity by letting the virus run its course.”
Thorolfur believes the most important thing to do now is to strengthen the hospital system and allow them to admit more people who need to be hospitalized.
Iceland is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, with 71.3% fully immunized people. The country has also managed to simultaneously boost its economy and have one of the lowest death rates in the world.
This has been done safely with the help of the country’s effective track and trace system, rigorous testing, and social distancing.