Since vaccinations began achieving herd immunity has been the goal for every country
–a point in time where enough of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and when life could return to some semblance of what it was.
However, every country’s journey to this objective has varied.
Now that T&T’s vaccine uptake has been all but stagnated, it will take the country until 2023 to inoculate enough people to reach that goal at its current rate.
Health experts have estimated that between 80 and 90 per cent of a country’s population would need to be fully vaccinated to fully benefit from herd immunity.
“What is the effective vaccination rate that will help to exert maximum control? We used to think in terms of other diseases 85 per cent, 80 per cent. I would say the highest we can go… which means perhaps over 90 per cent,” public health diplomat and epidemiologist, Dr Farley Cleghorn told Guardian Media in an interview.
However, in T&T, only roughly 78.6 per cent of the population (1.1 million of 1.4 million) is eligible to be vaccinated under the current national vaccination framework.
An average of 973 people per day accessed vaccines over the past week. At this rate, it will take 440 days to inoculate the 429,001 people eligible for vaccination but are yet to access it as of yesterday. This means the country is projected to achieve herd immunity, at the earliest, January 2023 if every outstanding person receives a one-shot regimen. That timeline is pushed about a month back for a two-dose regimen.
It’s a projection Cleghorn said will only work against the country.
“Taking until 2023 means that you are kind of inviting the uncertainty to increase tremendously. If you want more certainty in your reopening strategy, you need higher vaccination levels. That’s a fact,” Cleghorn said.
“If the Government, like so many governments in the world wants to push forward and do strategic reopening, managed reopening, then it must guarantee higher vaccination rates.”
The Ministry of Health confirmed 345 new COVID-19 cases from samples collected between November 10 to 13. It also recorded eight additional fatalities. These make 4,938 cases and 176 fatalities within the first two weeks of November. The seven-day rolling average now stands at 470 new cases per day.
Active cases now stand at 6,831 as only 238 recovered yesterday.