Your Covid-19 questions answered

How long until we reach herd immunity?

27 August 2021 - 07:18 By kyle zeeman
People queue for Covid-19 vaccinations in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. File photo.
People queue for Covid-19 vaccinations in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

As Gauteng premier David Makhura sets a goal to vaccinate 100,000 people a day, many have asked how long that target will need to be maintained before SA reaches herd immunity.

The government set a target to vaccinate 40 million people, or 67% of the population, to reach the point where enough people are immune to the coronavirus to prevent it spreading unchecked.

To date SA has vaccinated 11.6-million citizens, which is 29% of the goal.

Last week vaccinations were opened to all citizens over the age of 18, and government introduced several initiatives to get the vaccine “to the people”. This includes providing free transport to vaccination sites and pop up vaccination sites in high-traffic locations.

Using statistics from the government’s Covid-19 vaccine data dashboard, SA has on average administered about 165,000 jabs a day over the last week, including weekends.

According to a vaccine calculator developed by Media Hack., if this trend continues we could reach herd immunity by May next year.

If Makhura’s goal is reached, adding 30,000 to that provincial trend daily, we could reach herd immunity by March 2022.

However, Wits University professor of vaccinology Dr Shabir Madhi recently warned that herd immunity may be far off.

“The thinking was that the pandemic would ebb and then mostly fade once a chunk of the population, possibly 60% to 70%, was vaccinated or had resistance through a previous infection.

“However, new variants like Delta, which are more transmissible and have been shown to evade these protections in some cases, are lifting the bar for herd immunity to near impossibly high levels,” he said.