It’s almost amusing to think of humans as part of a “herd” — a term that usually conjures up images of hoofed animals grazing in a field.
Yet herd immunity is an important concept when it comes to stopping the spread of disease among people. It’s also become the focus of intense debate during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sweden is hoping to achieve herd immunity before there’s a vaccine for COVID-19, resisting the kind of severe lockdowns other countries implemented as a way to slow down the virus.
Critics say Sweden is paying a high price for that decision with one of the highest coronavirus mortality rates in the world. The approach is also slow going: Only 7% of people in Stockholm developed antibodies to the disease by the end of April, a study found.
So what is herd immunity and what’s the best way to achieve it?
TODAY asked Dr.